Motor Vehicle Accidents Law

Fault & Liability for a Car Accident

From the moment a driver hears the screech of tires to the second the impact occurs, a car accident can be a very traumatic experience. It can take time to piece together all of the events that led up to an accident, and they may not be as straightforward as they appear at first.

Who Is at Fault for a Car Accident?

If you live in a no-fault state, then your insurance will take care of your medical expenses and auto accident damage. Instead of having to fight the other driver and their insurance provider, your personal injury protection (PIP) policy determines the process.

In "at-fault" states, you may find that blame will be assessed in percentages for each driver involved in the accident. One at-fault driver could be 30% and the other could be 70% responsible. This means each driver's insurance will pay for their part of the accident accordingly.

Many factors are used in determining the percentage of fault, including:

  • A review of the police report and accident scene
  • A review of each insurance claim
  • Each driver's insurance company and insurance adjuster
  • Your car insurance policy
  • The total property damage
  • Your total medical bills

An attorney is beneficial because they will review all this information and make sure you are treated fairly after the car crash.

Rear-End Accidents

When it comes to being rear-ended, the vast majority of cases blame the person who hit the car in front of them. Even if the first car stopped short, it is the responsibility of the following driver to leave enough space between their vehicle and the one in front to stop safely.

However, there are even some instances in which the driver in front could be at fault. For example, if the first car's brake lights are out, that car's driver actually can be faulted for not properly maintaining the vehicle.

Accidents With Multiple Drivers

Sometimes, with rear-ending accidents involving three cars, the last car in line isn't always the car that causes the entire accident. Occasionally, the second car will hit the first car before the third car hits the second car. This can be difficult even for the drivers themselves to discern. Sometimes the fault can be challenging to determine.

Note that in some states, the police will not come to the scene of the accident to fill out a report. It will be up to the people involved in the accident to describe the events to their insurance companies.

Strict Liability: No Burden of Proof for Negligence

Although the concept of strict liability in motor vehicle accidents is rare, it will sometimes arise. One example is when a commercial truck is carrying cargo over federal or state weight limits. They may consequently roll over while making a turn, injuring an occupant of another vehicle or a pedestrian.

In many cases, the truck driver or trucking company would be found responsible for the resulting harm without the plaintiff having to prove negligence.

Motor Vehicle Statutory Violations

A "statutory violation" means someone did something illegal while driving their car, such as speeding. In cases like this, the most critical question to ask is whether or not the incident would have occurred without the violation. If no accident would have taken place without the illegal action, then a statutory violation has taken place.

These violations can vary from state to state, but what is illegal in one state may not be illegal in others. Car accident lawyers should be familiar with all of the rules and regulations in the state in which the incident occurred, allowing them to proceed accordingly.