Car Accidents: Who’s At Fault?
Several factors could contribute to car accidents. Icy or frozen roads could be one reason, and an unaware driver could be another. Regardless, it pays to know that you, as a motorist, is protected by federal and state laws.
Car accident laws refer to legal rules that will determine who is at fault, and therefore, pay for personal and property damage arising from a traffic collision. If the world is black and white, the task of determining who’s responsible is easy. However, that’s not always the case. There are instances wherein both drivers are at fault, so the task of determining the percentage of fault lies entirely on lawyers, courts, and the police.
Car accident laws are a combination of personal injury and traffic laws. Four essential elements must be present to receive compensation as victims. These four elements are duty, breach, causation, and harm.
A plaintiff should establish a breach of duty to win the case. Evidence of breach is shown through eyewitness testimony, admission of fault, or traffic surveillance video. If these are not available, circumstantial proofs can be used such as skid marks, blood alcohol readings, and paint smudges.
The element of causation, on the other hand, can be proven through medical testimonies demonstrating that the injuries were sustained because of a collision. Lastly, the plaintiff must be able to show harm. In car accidents, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the crash caused damage to the plaintiff’s person or vehicle to receive compensation for pain and grief, medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
So, who’s at fault?
Determining the at-fault party is never a walk in the park. Different state laws offer varying degrees of protection to motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. There are also various traffic rules for motorcyclists because they run faster and are more nimble than automobiles.
Truck drivers, on the other hand, have to be professionally trained and must be certified to drive. If trucks get involved in a collision, the liability might extend to the truck owner or company as well.
What if both drivers are at fault?
In some cases of car accidents, both drives involved in the collision could be at fault. It could also happen in car and pedestrian cases. In these instances, you can hire an attorney to prove the degree of fault.
Different states implement different guidelines on how to treat situations wherein two or more parties are at fault. In some states, whoever is 60% at fault will pay for the damages. But in other states, both parties will have to pay according to the degree of responsibility. For instance, if you are 60% at fault, then you will pay for 60% of the damages. The other party will pay for the remaining 40%.
How does auto insurance work?
Luckily, most vehicles have active auto insurance. An auto insurance company would pay for some or all of the damages in car accidents, depending on your coverage. Some may even pay for medical costs, and may also provide replacement vehicles.
Some auto insurance companies may also hire lawyers to prove liability in accidents. Bear in mind that if you are at-fault, you can expect your insurance premium to skyrocket the next time you renew because you will be seen as a high risk insured. It might take a few years to drop that point off your insurance records, and your premium to go down.