Determining Who Is Liable in Automobile Accidents

by Anne B. Robinson
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When a driver injures you in a car accident, you may have different legal claims for damages. The legislation of your state and the kind of insurance you carry frequently impact how responsibility and liability are calculated. In some states, if you’ve found even 1% at fault in an accident, you won’t get compensation from the other driver. Others follow a pure comparative negligence model.

Determining Fault

The police and insurance companies typically determine fault for a car accident. Information from witness testimony, dash cam footage, pictures of the scene, and damage to both automobiles can be employed to identify the responsible party. Typically, evidence of a driver’s carelessness shows that they failed to apply the degree of caution that would have been appropriate in the given situation. For instance, this isn’t very careful if a vehicle strikes your car after running a red light.

Other accidents may be more difficult to determine fault for. For instance, in a rear-end collision, it may be harder to prove that the vehicle behind you was speeding. In these situations, the state’s laws might apply a rule called modified comparative negligence. Each motorist engaged in the collision might be given a certain amount of blame, allowing them to reclaim their expenses. This percentage will often correlate to how much of your damages they must pay, if any.

Arbitration

Many car accident victims have arbitration clauses in their insurance policies that require them to arbitrate disputes rather than go to trial. It can be advantageous because trials are costly, time-consuming, and could result in a decision unfavorable to the victim. During an arbitration hearing, you must present evidence of your losses, such as medical records, pay stubs, photographs of vehicle damage, and witness statements. Additionally, you must be ready for the opposing side’s arguments, which frequently include denying coverage based solely on comparative negligence or denying damages for pain and suffering.

You can better grasp your alternatives for handling a vehicle accident dispute by consulting an accomplished injury attorney. If settlement negotiations have stalled, these attorneys can explain how arbitration could benefit your case. They can also discuss the disadvantages of arbitration, including its binding nature and lack of appeals. Your ability to analyze your alternatives and choose what is best for your circumstances will improve as you become aware of the procedure.

Comparative Negligence

Courts utilize comparative fault principles to assess how much each party should be compensated financially. The court can conclude that your negligence was more than half the reason for your injuries, for instance, if you were texting and were involved in a vehicle accident when another motorist breached the law. It would result in a reduced or no financial award.

Some states follow pure comparative fault rules. In these states, you are not entitled to damages from the defendant if the jury concludes that you contributed more than half of the accident’s guilt to you. Other states use modified comparative fault, which limits your recovery to the percentage of blame assigned to you. Identify now which type of system your state uses so that you can be prepared to negotiate.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is mandatory in some states, optional in others, and available as an add-on to auto insurance in a few. It pays the insured driver’s medical bills, funeral costs, and missed earnings, as well as those of everyone else in the car at the time of the collision. It also covers replacement services for things the injured person can no longer do for themselves, such as child care or house cleaning.

PIP is sometimes called no-fault insurance because it covers your expenses regardless of who caused the crash. It is similar to bodily injury liability coverage, which pays for other people’s medical expenses when you cause an accident. Still, it does not cover their losses if you are found at fault. Like other auto insurance, PIP costs vary based on state law, driving history, coverage limits, and deductibles. However, it is typically less expensive than pursuing damages in liability cases. Moreover, PIP can pay your medical bills quickly.

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