Legal cases sometimes involve presumptions, or assumptions of fact that the law requires you to make so long as certain underlying facts are proved to be true. A presumption may, however, cease to exist if a party offers evidence in rebuttal.
For example, in any car accident, it is important to understand the applicable laws of your particular state. For example, claims litigated by RI car accident lawyers may turn on the existence or lack of legal presumptions. One well known example of a presumption is a RI rear end collision. The following driver is presumed negligent, unless evidence is offered in rebuttal. As the RI Supreme Court said in Bruno et al. v. Caianiello et al., 404 A.2d 62 (R.I. 1979), “[a]lthough the occurrence of a rear-end collision is prima facie evidence that the driver of the rear car was negligent, it does not ipso facto foreclose the issue of liability.”
Similarly, drivers involved in accidents that do not wear seatbelts are sometimes told by insurance companies that they are at partially at fault for their own injuries. This issue is addressed statutorily, in section 31-22-22 of the RI General Laws:
“In no event shall failure to be properly restrained by a … safety belt be considered as negligence, nor the failure to be properly restrained by the … safety belt be admissible as evidence in the trial of any civil action.”
Further support is found in Swajian et al. v. General Motors Corp., 559 A.2d 1041 (R.I. 1989), where the court answered in the negative the following certified question: Whether under Rhode Island law the use or non-use of an available seatbelt and/or shoulder harness restraint system should be considered by the fact finder in a civil action for damages for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident?
Another presumption in RI car accident law concerns vehicle owners. If a car is involved in an accident, the registered owner is presumed to have given the driver consent to operate that vehicle. Section 31-31-7 says,
“evidence that at the time of the accident … the motor vehicle was registered [to] the defendant, shall be … evidence that it was being operated with the consent of the defendant, and the absence of consent shall be an affirmative defense to be … proved by the defendant.”
Knowing the applicable presumptions may make a claim easier or more difficult for an injured person, and can shift the burden of proof from one party to another. Providence personal injury lawyers know the RI state laws that pertain to car accidents and can assist you in obtaining just compensation.