How can you prove an at-fault driver was speeding?
Despite traffic laws and thousands of tickets written by law enforcement every month, speeding is still a serious problem on SC’s roadways, and it is still a leading cause of auto accidents.
If you were struck by a reckless driver who was speeding, if you were not at fault in the accident, and if their speeding was a proximate cause of the crash, they are liable for any injuries and damage they caused in the crash. But first, you have to prove your case…
There are several ways that your plaintiff’s attorney can prove that the other driver is liable, and your attorney on the Axelrod team will help you to gather the evidence that you will need to prove the other driver was speeding and that their negligence caused the car wreck.
Is Speeding Negligence Per-Se?
If you can prove that the other driver was speeding, that is negligence per se. Depending on the facts of your case and whether you were committing any traffic violations at the time of the accident, that might be all you need to establish liability.
What is Negligence Per-Se?
Negligence per-se is when a driver violates a traffic law or other criminal statute when that traffic law or criminal statute is designed to protect the public (and the plaintiff) against the type of accident or harm caused by the driver’s conduct.
For example, it may be negligence per se if a driver:
- Exceeds the speed limit,
- Runs a stop sign or stop light,
- Drives on the wrong side of the road,
- Fails to use their turn signal, or
- Drives while intoxicated.
Negligence per-se alone is not enough to establish liability – you must also prove that the speeding (or other traffic violation) was the proximate cause of the accident and your injuries.
The Speeding Must be a Proximate Cause of the Accident
There are three elements that must be proven in a lawsuit based on negligence:
- A duty of care owed by the defendant to the plaintiff (this could be spelled out in a traffic law like speed limit laws);
- Defendant’s breach of that duty by a negligent act or omission (if the defendant violated a traffic law, they have breached their duty by a negligent act); and
- Damages to plaintiff proximately resulting from the breach of duty.
Although in many cases this will be easy to demonstrate, you must also prove that the speeding proximately caused the accident and the damage that resulted from the accident.
How Can You Prove an At-Fault Driver was Speeding?
There are many ways that we can prove the at-fault driver was speeding in your case, including through eyewitness testimony, your own testimony, the testimony of the other driver, the testimony of the responding officer, the officer’s incident report and any tickets that were written, dashcams, GPS data, photographs or video of damage to the vehicles, and accident reconstruction by expert witnesses.
Although most eyewitnesses will not be able to say the exact speed that a car was going, they can testify as to their observations. If the other car “came flying around the corner like a bat out of Hell,” for example, that’s a good indication they were probably exceeding the speed limit.
If the speed limit was 35 in a residential neighborhood, or if the defendant was traveling at excessively high speeds like 90-100 on the interstate, eyewitness testimony should be able to establish that they were exceeding the speed limit even if they cannot pin down the exact speed of the defendant’s vehicle.
Your testimony as to what you saw just before the crash may be critical, and the defendant’s testimony (or cross-examination) may also be critical.
Incident Reports and Traffic Tickets
Although incident reports are not usually admissible in an auto accident trial, the officer’s testimony as to what they wrote in the report will be admissible.
At the accident scene, the responding officer will usually attempt to establish who was at fault in the accident and will make notes in their report as to whether either driver was exceeding the speed limit or violating other traffic laws at the time of the accident.
If the responding officer writes a traffic ticket for speeding, and the other driver pays the fine (pleads guilty to speeding) before your accident case gets to trial, that conviction for speeding will most likely be admissible in your auto accident trial and the defendant will no longer be able to deny that were speeding when the accident happened.
Technology that can Prove the At-Fault Driver was Speeding
There is a variety of types of technology that may be used as evidence that the at-fault driver was speeding. For example:
- Dashcams: Dashcams on your vehicle or the other driver’s vehicle can show video of the moments before the crash, including the relative speed of each vehicle that was involved in the crash. Even better, many dashcams will also show the exact speed that the vehicle was traveling at the time of the crash – particularly dashcams that are used by commercial vehicles and trucking companies.
- GPS data: GPS devices on commercial vehicles may also show the speed at which the defendant was traveling at the time of the accident. Even when they do not, it is possible to show the speed a vehicle was traveling by demonstrating the time that it took for the vehicle to travel between two points of interest prior to the crash.
- Black boxes, or Electronic Data Recorders (EDRs): Many cars are now equipped with EDRs that will record and preserve information like the speed of the vehicle just before an impact, whether and when the brakes were used, and whether the driver was wearing their seatbelt.
Your attorney on the Axelrod team has access to a wide range of experts who assist us in gathering, interpreting, and presenting evidence on behalf of our clients, including accident reconstructionists.
In appropriate cases, an accident reconstructionist can help us to identify and preserve evidence to show how an accident happened and whether the other driver was speeding at the time of the accident. Examples include:
- Extraction of data from the EDR, or black box,
- Analysis of skid marks on the pavement from each car that may show the speed a vehicle was traveling and whether they applied their brakes,
- Damage to each vehicle that can show the point of impact and the speed of impact, and
- Analysis of other evidence gathered by law enforcement or witnesses at the crash scene.
Your auto accident lawyer on the Axelrod team will help you to gather the evidence that you need to prove the at-fault driver’s liability, including evidence of speeding or other traffic violations that could constitute per-se negligence.