PERSONAL INJURY I CAR ACCIDENTS I FAQ CAR ACCIDENTS I FREQUENTLY ASKED CAR ACCIDENT QUESTIONS – What if the At-Fault Driver is Lying About the Cause of the Accident?
July 13, 2020
Car accident victims have asked, “what do I do if the at-fault driver lied to officers at the scene of the collision?”. Unfortunately, lying to officers at the scene of a car accident is a common occurrence. At-fault drivers may attempt to evade liability for their negligence, by blaming the car accident on an imaginary third party.
In a recent car accident, an at-fault driver made a false statement to reporting officers, alleging that he was “rear-ended and pushed into the rear” our client’s vehicle. The at-fault driver fabricated the false statement and claimed that “[h]e thought it was a black foreign vehicle that hit him, maybe a Nissan.”
Third-party witnesses confirmed that there was no black Nissan at the scene of the car accident. Our client testified that it was a two-car collision and she observed the at-fault driver in the rearview mirror not paying attention to the stop traffic ahead. At the scene of the car accident reporting offices inspected the vehicle damage and notated “no black paint transfer or fresh damage” to the rear of the at-fault driver’s car.
Despite the at-fault driver’s false allegations the traffic collision report concluded that this was a two-car accident crash. Reporting officers in the traffic collision report summarized the motor vehicle collision as follows: at-fault driver “rammed into the rear of the injured party’s vehicle on his own accord and as a result of the driver’s own negligence”.
If an at-fault driver is making false statements at the scene of the car accident, gather evidence proving the contrary. A car accident victim should remain calm and allow reporting officers at the scene of the motor vehicle collision to gather the necessary information. Evidence which helps evaluate a car accident and assists in making a determination of fault following a motor vehicle collision include:
If an at-fault driver is lying about the cause of the car accident, then the injured motor vehicle victim may be awarded punitive damages. When an at-fault driver makes false statements to reporting officers and attempts to evade liability such unethical conduct permits an award for punitive damages. Controlling law on punitive damages advises as follows:
“In an appropriate case, the jury may be instructed that a false promise or a suggestion of a fact known to be false may constitute a misrepresentation as the word “misrepresentation” is used in the instruction’s definition of “fraud.” (Stevens v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. (1996) 49 Cal.App.4th 1645, 1661 [57 Cal.Rptr.2d 525]. The court in Stevens suggested that the following instruction be given if evidence of other punitive damage awards is introduced into evidence: ‘If you determine that a defendant has already been assessed with punitive damages based on the same conduct for which punitive damages are requested in this case, you may consider whether punitive damages awarded in other cases have sufficiently punished and made an example of the defendant. You must not use the amount of punitive damages awarded in other cases to determine the amount of the punitive damage award in this case, except to the extent you determine that a lesser award, or no award at all, is justified in light of the penalties already imposed.’ (Stevens, supra, 49 Cal.App.4th at p. 1663, fn. 7.) … The purposes of punitive damages are to punish a wrongdoer for the conduct that harmed the plaintiff and to discourage similar conduct in the future.” – CACI No. 394 Punitive Damages – Individual Defendant – Trial not Bifurcated.
False allegations made to investigating officers, is the exact behavior punitive damages were designed to discourage. For more information on punitive damages in general, links are included below:
We have included our California Damages Chart below, explaining different types of recoverable damages, including punitive damages:
|Type of Damages|
|Special Compensatory Damages/ Economic Damages|
|Special damages are unique to the individual plaintiff and vary significantly from one plaintiff to the next. An award for special damages compensate a plaintiff for costs and expenses incurred as a result of the incident or accident that caused their injuries.|
|Common types of special damages:|
· loss of earnings
· property damage
· loss of future earnings
· past medical expenses
· cost for future medical care
· cost of household expenses
· reimbursement for cancelled trips or altered plans
|General Compensatory Damages/Noneconomic Damages||General damages compensate a plaintiff for non-monetary damages incurred in a personal injury claim.||Common types of general damages:|
· physical pain
· loss of enjoyment of life
· emotional distress
· mental anguish,
· pain and suffering,
· loss of enjoyment
· loss of consortium or companionship
|Punitive Damages||Punitive damages are only awarded to an injured plaintiff when the defendant’s conduct was despicable or reprehensible. Punitive damages are designed to punish a wrongdoer for the wrongful conduct and discourage similar conduct in the future.||Punitive damages are awarded when the defendant engaged in malicious, oppressive or fraudulent conduct.|
· Malice: means that the defendant acted with intent to cause injury or with willful and knowing disregard of the rights and safety of another.
· Oppression: means the defendant’s conduct was despicable and the plaintiff was subject to cruel and unjust hardship in knowing disregard of their rights
· Fraud: means the defendant intentionally misrepresented or concealed a material fact and did so intending to harm the plaintiff
For more blogs discussing “FAQs Car Accident” or “Frequently Asked Car Accident Questions” see the links below:
If you were involved in a car accident or have any questions about your personal injury case call us today at 619-432-5145 for a free consultation with one of our experienced California Personal Injury Lawyers and San Diego Car Accident Attorneys.