Who is Liable for Your Car Accident?

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Who is Liable for Your Car Accident?

car accident liability

While you are overwhelmed trying to recover physically and emotionally, who is liable for your car accident? Many victims of serious car accidents have extensive medical bills that stack up and cause great stress. A lack of being able to work and earn an income makes things even more difficult. As you see your medical bills increase, you may consider filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation from the person who caused your injuries. 

Determining Fault is Challenging in Car Accident Cases

In some cases, car accidents are relatively straightforward. When one car rear-ends the car in front that is stopped at a light, it is relatively easy to determine fault. Car accidents are often more complicated, and it can be difficult to determine who is at fault for the accident in some cases. For example, what can you do when more than one driver is at fault? Additionally, when the at-fault driver was working when the accident happened, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the employer.  When a serious car accident happens and multiple people suffer extremely serious injuries, one party’s insurance policy may not cover all of the victim’s damages. If another driver hits you, you may assume that he or she is at fault and that he or she is the one against whom you should bring a lawsuit. 

Filing a Lawsuit Against the Negligent Driver

In most cases, the driver whose negligence caused the car accident is liable for the resulting injuries. Under the theory of ordinary negligence, injured parties can bring a lawsuit against drivers who breached their duty of care. Every driver owes everyone else on the road a duty of reasonable care. Drivers breach this duty when they fail to use the ordinary care that other drivers in similar circumstances would use.  Drivers who fail to take the proper safety precautions when driving breach their duty of care. Examples of breaking a duty of care include driving negligently, driving while intoxicated, speeding, and driving while distracted. For example, a driver who fails to stop at a stop sign because he is distracted, and collides with another vehicle, causing injuries, is liable for the injuries caused by his negligence. The injured plaintiff only needs to prove that the driver failed to stop at the stop sign, and thus breached his duty of care. The plaintiff will also need to prove causation, that the driver’s negligence was the cause of the victim’s injuries. 

Bringing a Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Driver’s Employer

When the at-fault driver was on the job when the accident happened, the victim may have a right to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver’s employer. The legal theory of vicarious liability provides that a victim of a personal injury can sue the victim’s employer when the employee was working for the employer at the time of the accident. The plaintiffs do not need to prove that the employer itself was liable to recover compensation from the employer.  For example, who is liable when a commercial truck driver was texting while driving and crashed into another passenger vehicle, causing serious injuries? In this case, if the truck driver was driving cargo for his employer when the accident happened, then the victim could sue the trucking company itself for damages. In many cases, businesses have bigger commercial insurance policies than individual drivers. They also often have a greater number of assets, making it worthwhile to consider bringing a lawsuit against them. 

Bringing a Lawsuit Against a Government Contractor or Entity 

When your severe car accident was caused due to poor road conditions, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against the city or municipality that was responsible for maintaining the road. Filing a lawsuit against a city or state entity is usually quite complicated. Typically, the injured party will need to file a request to bring a claim against the government. However, if your accident was caused by any of the following, it is worth considering bringing a suit against the city:

  • Dangerous road conditions, including potholes
  • A lack of safety signs
  • Failure to keep debris off of the roadways
  • City construction workers failing to keep their work area safe
  • Dangerously designed roads

 

When the At-Fault Driver Has No Insurance

If you have suffered an injury caused by a driver who does not have insurance, you are probably wondering how to pursue compensation for your injuries. The first option is to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault driver personally. Unfortunately, many drivers who do not have car insurance do not have enough assets to cover the cost of your medical care and other related expenses. Thus, even if you are successful in your case, you may not actually obtain any compensation from your lawsuit. You may need to file a claim with your own insurance company. Many drivers have uninsured motorist benefits. These benefits kick in when an uninsured or underinsured person is at fault for your accident. Keep in mind that many underinsured driver policies do not allow you to recover more compensation than the dollar amount of your primary insurance coverage.  For example, if you have an insurance policy worth $200,000, you can only recover up to  $200,000 in insurance benefits, total. Unfortunately, auto insurance companies are for-profit companies. They will do everything possible to try to pay victims as little compensation as possible. If you need to negotiate with an insurance company, it is incredibly important to hire a lawyer who will represent your best interests. 

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer

At Schwartz and Schwartz, our lawyers have extensive experience representing car accident victims. Contact our law firm today to schedule your initial consultation.

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