Liability and Fault in Car Accidents
It is not always obvious who is liable for an accident. State laws and mitigating circumstances can affect liability more than most imagine. The best way to know what your options are and the strength or your case is to talk to a professional accident attorney in your area.
State Statutes and its Effect on Accident Liability
You may be wondering at this point why so many states have so many different rules and why some of them do not seem very beneficial for non-negligent drivers it is important to realize what a powerful lobby the automobile insurance industry is. They spend millions of dollars every year to get laws passed that benefit their business interest.
As an example, in some states an uninsured motorist is not allowed to collect for any damages resulting from an accident regardless of whether they were negligent or not.
They can be a completely innocent injured party, but because they did not purchase insurance coverage they are precluded from being compensated for their losses.
Common Law and its Effect on Accident Liability
Fault in accident cases is either derived from the common law or defined by statute. Historically the common law has divided fault into four categories:
- Strict liability
Inadvertent and careless are good descriptors for negligence. Negligence is the most common form found in typical accident cases.
Reckless is more willful than negligent. It usually involves someone knowing what they are doing is not safe or the right thing, but they do it anyway. Speeding down a highway at 120 mph would usually be considered reckless if it causes an accident.
Intentional is the easy one it’s when someone does something wring in person. For instance, if a person intentionally rear end someone.
Strict liability is more when something happens, and the person or company has to be responsible regardless of whether they did anything wrong. You usually see strict liability with defective products. For instance, if Ford installs brakes and they go out for no reason because they were designed improperly but not one was negligent in their manufacturing.
A “tort” is the common law concept of negligence, it is traditionally described as when a person wrongs another but when it doesn’t rise to the level of a crime or being intentional. This person is called a “tortfeasor.”
In auto accident cases there is usually little debate about the cause of the accident when a person is found to be driving drunk or engaging in reckless or intentional conduct but there. However, when the person is just engaging in negligent activity there can be a lot of debate about the cause and what besides that person’s negligence contributed to the accident.
Statutory Violations to be Aware of
There are so many states that vary from state to state about how a driver is supposed to register, maintain, and operate their car that only a local, qualified attorney can even begin to explain your fact, specific scenario. These specific laws are often the states codifying the common law into statutory law.
The most important point to know and understand that is generally any violation of a state law pertaining to the registration, maintenance, and operation of a motor vehicle will usually create a presumption of negligence.
Unfortunately, that means that just being cited at the scene of an accident with a ticket can lead to a presumption of negligence that will make you and/or your insurance company liable for any damages caused as a result of that accident. That driver then has the burden to prove that their negligence did not cause the alleged injuries.
Getting a Legal Consultation on Liability for Free
If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident, you or they should contact an experienced accident attorney and scheduled a free consultation. A qualified accident lawyer will be able to review your case and advise you on a plan of action that makes sense based on the facts and specific circumstances of your claim.
Proving Fault: Liability in Car Accidents
Generally, any accident that involves a bike, motorcycle, car, or truck it is imperative that fault or liability is established. This is the determination of who was negligent and caused the accident. It may sound simple, but it is often much more complicated than it sounds because more than one party could have contributed to the accident.
What you need to know about Police Reports?
In some states the police do not even come out and do police reports for car accidents. If they do though, it is important to get a copy and to give the police officer all of the relevant information to protect yourself and your interests.
In some cities and states, police officers do not respond to accident reports. This is often a result of limited resources and you may have to actually travel to the nearest police station to file a report.
A police report is the responding officers written notes of what he or she saw and heard at the accident scene. The reports do usually contain the officer’s opinion about who was at fault and what caused the accident. The report will also almost always include whether the officer issued a ticket as a result of what he or she believes happened.
The report prepared by the police is often one of the most persuasive items of evidence that insurance companies will use in evaluating who is liable for an accident. As a result, it can take longer to get an insurance company to make a decision of liability if they are waiting for a police report because they do not like to issue their reports prior to reviewing the police report.
How to get a Police Report Amended
There are many times that a police report is filed, and an involved party does not agree with something it says. You can generally get a factual mistake, like a name or license plate fixed but it is much harder to get a fault determination changed.
If a police report lists you as the at-fault driver and you disagree, you should consult an experienced accident attorney, so they can review your case and discuss your options with you.
incorrectly to an insurance company.
Rear End Collisions
One of the most common accidents in the US is rear-end accidents and as more and more distracted drivers are on the road the number of rear end accidents keep rising. While it is a commonly believed that the person who rear ends someone is always liable there are cases where there are mitigating circumstances. For instance, if the persons brakes fail. If you are rear ended, you can probably assume the driver behind you will be liable for your damages you should also be aware that there are sometimes exceptions.
Accidents Involving Left-Turns
Typically, a left turn accident is the fault of the driver turning left but there are other mitigating factors that also have to be considered. Maybe someone went through a red light and crashed into the person turning left. This would affect who is found to ultimately be liable for the accident and the damages suffered by the victims.
Getting a Free Case Evaluation
Almost all accident attorneys offer free, no-obligation case consultation. You can schedule an appointment with a lawyer and have them review your case. They will give you their assessment of your case, the liability of the parties involved, and your potential recovery.