In order to have a valid claim for the recovery of damages against a negligent driver (or more accurately, the driver’s insurance company) arising from an accident, it will be necessary for you to prove that the other driver was “at fault.”

This means that you must prove that the other driver was actually “negligent” in the operation of their vehicle.  In many cases, insurance companies refuse to admit that their insured was “at fault” in connection with the accident, and it will be necessary to prove that their insured as at fault in order to win.  This requires the gathering of evidence from various sources.

How is the evidence gathered in connection with proving fault in an automobile accident?  Through several different avenues …

Police Reports

In many cases, the first place to begin is a police report, assuming that the police came to the scene of your accident.

It is important to obtain a copy of the police report as soon as possible, because the police report often indicates whether there were measurements taken in connection with skid marks, and often contain the officer’s opinion of what happened and who was “at fault” and whether any citations were issued in connection with the accident.

Importantly, many police reports also contain witness statements which are most helpful in disputed accident claims.  Oftentimes, however, in light of the tremendous caseload of the police officers, the police reports are often brief and could use some supplementation by way of further witness interviews, further measurements, and accident scene investigation.  This is particularly true in connection with cases where it is difficult to determine the party who was “at fault” in connection with the accident.

Traffic Laws – Rules of the Road

Oftentimes, the police report will leave clues as to whether traffic laws within the state of the accident have been violated.

Within the State of Arkansas, the violation of a statute (a traffic regulation) is evidence of negligence which can be considered by a jury. Accordingly, it greatly helps your case to be able to establish that the other driver failed to obey applicable traffic laws or “rules of the road” which are designed for everyone’s safety.

Many of the traffic laws and violations of the same are matters of common sense, but some are more difficult to interpret in certain situations. For example, most people can readily understand that exceeding the speed limit may be evidence that the other driver was negligent if his speed was such that he was unable to slow down and stop before he hit you.

However, certain traffic laws, such as “right-of-way” laws, can be more confusing. Nevertheless, when we obtain our driver’s license, we all agree to follow the traffic laws and in the event we fail to follow a right of way-law, we are simply responsible for the damage which occurs.

Witness statements, photographs, and even indentations in the pavement can be clues to support that traffic laws were violated in connection with the accident.

The Nature of the Accident Itself

There are a few situations where it is essentially undisputed that the other driver was at fault.  These situations include the following:

Rear-End Collisions

If you have been rear-ended by someone else, it is almost a given that the other driver was at fault. A basic rule of driving is to make sure you have enough room between yourself and the car in front to be able to stop safely. Even if the driver in front has to stop suddenly, the driver in the rear must maintain a sufficient lookout and enough room to be able to stop safely.

Left Turn Accidents

In most cases (not all cases) a car which is making a left turn will be liable for a collision with a car heading straight in the opposite direction. While there are a few rare exceptions to this rule, it is generally a given that the car headed straight in the opposite direction (absent some other traffic law violation on such vehicle’s part) has the right-of-way.

Evidence From Multiple Sources

Each case will always depend on its own facts. Unlimited different scenarios may occur to cause an accident.  This is why it’s so important to gather all of the evidence in order to accurately and convincingly establish the fault of the negligent driver.

In some cases it may be necessary to hire expert witnesses to conduct an accident reconstruction. Accident reconstruction experts are able to ascertain whether the parties involved were in violation of the rules of the road and traffic laws by virtue of measurements of skid marks, measuring the impact in light of the location of damage to vehicles, the path of the vehicle after the first impact occurred, and other factors.

In an insurance claim, you may feel that it is obvious that the other party was at fault. However, when the insurance company takes the opposite stance, you need to be prepared to battle the insurance company with experienced counsel.

An experienced auto accident lawyer can assist you in situations to make sure you are treated fairly and achieve the results you want. In the event you are injured in an accident and believe the other party is at fault, please do not hesitate to contact me at Christian, Byars & Hickey, P.L.L.C.  I will be glad to answer your questions.

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What is pregnancy discrimination?

Pregnancy discrimination occurs when an employer unlawfully treats an employee differently from other employees based upon the employee’s pregnancy or childbirth, or pregnancy related conditions.

How does the law protect pregnant persons?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act states, in part, that “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.”  42 U.S.C. §2000e(k).  This means that the employer must treat pregnant women the same as other employees — but does not require any special accommodations.  It is absolutely clear that an employer may not fire an employee because she is pregnant, or force an employee to take maternity leave.

What does it take to prove pregnancy discrimination?

To establish a “prima facie case” of pregnancy discrimination under Title VII, the employee must prove:

(1)       She was pregnant or indicated an intention to become pregnant;

(2)       She was qualified for the position or was performing her job at a level that met her employer’s true or legitimate expectations;

(3)       She suffered an adverse employment action like termination or demotion;

(4)       There is a nexus between the employee’s pregnancy and the adverse employment action that would permit a fact finder to infer unlawful discrimination.

What are some unlawful employment practices which may be actionable?

Generally, under Title VII, it is unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to hire, to discharge, or to demote, or harass, or otherwise discriminate against an individual with respect to the terms and conditions of employment because of: race, color, religion, sex, or pregnancy.

With respect to pregnancy issues, common complaints include the failure to rehire or place an employee back to work after their childbirth; terminating an employee soon after they learn of the pregnancy, or otherwise treat the employee differently after the employer learns of the pregnancy.

Child-rearing is not considered the same as “child bearing.”  Therefore, men or women who desire to take “parental” leaves of absences to raise their children, or to stay home with the baby are generally not protected by the federal law.  Also, under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, an employer is generally not required to provide an accommodation to a pregnant employee, unless it provides the same accommodation to similarly situated nonpregnant employees.  42 U.S.C. §2000e.

How can we help?

Joe Byars is willing to discuss pregnancy in the workplace issues with you.  The pursuit of a pregnancy discrimination complaint can be complicated and challenging, but we enjoy the challenge and we are glad to help you.  Let us evaluate your case or answer your questions free of charge.

In many situations, we are willing to represent persons who have been discriminated against on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not owe us a fee unless we recover.  While we primarily focus on the plaintiff’s side, we also have experience representing employers.  Feel free to call today for a consultation.

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The Uniform Interstate Discovery and Deposition Act: We Need the Evidence – Let’s Make It Easier

March 31, 2012

When practicing law on the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma, we often need to serve an Arkansas “subpoena” upon an Oklahoma resident in order to obtain the documents or evidence relevant to a dispute pending in Arkansas. The problem is: it is not that easy. The Arkansas subpoena is simply not effective or enforceable.  Sure, [...]

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What to Do When a Loved One Dies in Arkansas

March 31, 2012

When a person loses a loved one, they not only need time to go through the grieving process, but need some direction on how to deal with their loved one’s estate. It seems that “free advice” is everywhere — from Uncle Fred to cousin Jim — who went to law school.  They all mean well, [...]

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Dispute Resolution: Make Your Choice in Your Next Contract

March 31, 2012

Do you sometimes “skip” the boring “boilerplate” language in contracts before you sign them?  Don’t.  More and more often, counsel are advising their clients to include dispute resolution provisions in their contracts, including forum selection clauses, which govern the location of disputes. Unfortunately, sometimes the client follows the lead of their counsel without sufficient discussion [...]

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Some Thoughts On Confidential Settlements

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In an ideal world, we would not agree to confidential settlements, because such agreements have a tendency to undermine public safety and justice. Why? Essentially, confidential settlements allow companies responsible for the harms and losses to sweep the harm under the rug, and possibly continue their harmful conduct. However, as an advocate for an individual [...]

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Arkansas Employers Must Respect Employee’s Right to Privacy — At Least in Certain Cases

March 31, 2012

In a somewhat unusual case, the Arkansas Court of Appeals in Coombs v. J.B. Hunt recently protected an employee’s cause of action for invasion of privacy, and particularly the tort of “intrusion by seclusion,” which is characterized as “the right to be left alone.” The Court held that in order to prove intrusion upon seclusion, a [...]

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Facebook & MySpace: Open Game for Evidence

March 31, 2012

The examination of an opposing party’s social media page for damaging pictures or posts is now a common practice in civil and criminal litigation.  The evidence is not only admissible: it is evidence which should not be tampered with. A court in Virginia has imposed very hefty fines upon a litigant and his attorney for [...]

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