Making a personal injury claim after a car accident is not as simple a process as some people might think. It’s not always easy to prove who caused the accident and where negligence lies. Awards cannot be made until that issue is made clear, and it’s the complexity of doing so makes it necessary to get an expert involved – which is where your personal injury attorney comes in.
Liability, in simple terms, means legal responsibility. Any number of events can lead up to an accident or collision, but often a single action is the deciding factor that causes it. Generally, neglecting the rules of the road or good driving habits is behind it, and because of the critical role negligence plays in determining responsibility, it is something that is carefully dealt with in the range of duties that all drivers are subject to.
So, what are the aspects of a car accident that can complicate the issue of liability? And how can they impact on the structure of your claim? We’ve put together a brief overview below, but for more detailed information, you need to speak to an experienced attorney.
Factors That Can Affect Liability
It might seem clear cut that as the injured party you are entitled to claim damages. But when the issue of liability is examined, more than one person may prove to be negligent. This directly affects a personal injury claim, but there are other situations equally as influential.
Some of the aspects that can affect a liability include:
- Comparative Negligence – it is possible that even though you are the injured party that you were also partly responsible for the accident. For example, a drunk driver may hit you while driving on the road, but if you were in the process of texting at the time of impact, then you may be considered negligent since you were distracted while driving. Comparative negligence means sharing negligence. A drunk driver is probably going to be viewed as chiefly responsible for an accident, but your duty to drive safely was not adhered to because you decided to text. The court may decide that you were 20% responsible, which means the other driver pays only 80% of the compensation sum.
- Employer Responsibility – if you are involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle, like a delivery van, then the driver’s employer may also be held legally responsible. This adds an extra dimension to your personal injury claim, which would need to be considered too.
- Unauthorized Location – this is rarely applicable in a car accident, but it is possible that a driver takes a wrong turn and ends up on a construction site, for example, and collides with a truck. In such cases, it may be established that “duty of care” does not apply to the driver of the truck because you should never have been there. Of course, if the wrong turn came as a result of poor signage (or none at all), then it may affect matters too.
- Road Conditions – the condition of a road can have a genuine impact on your ability to drive and (more importantly) react to a situation. If, for example, a stretch of road is very poorly maintained and has numerous potholes, then swerving to avoid a collision can be as hazardous as the collision itself. In this case, while the other driver may be shown to be negligent, local government may also be liable since it is their responsibility to maintain the quality of the road.
- Defective Products – this is generally understood to relate to products you buy which were poorly made and causes personal injury. But it applies to car accidents too if a car part fails, such as the brakes, the steering or the electrics. In such cases, the manufacturer and seller of the part may be held responsible. Also, the mechanic who installed a new part may be liable if it is proven that he or she had not done so properly.
- Property Safety Standards – another issue is the safety standard of the property on which an accident took place, provided the property itself played a part in the accident. For example, if an old wall collapses causing you to swerve but resulting in you colliding with a parked car, then the owner of the wall may be held negligent. The reason is that owners are responsible for maintaining their property, and if the wall collapsed then clearly it had not been properly maintained.
Consult Attorney Keith Dozier
For more information on the complexities of car accident liability, contact Keith. His experience in all aspects of Personal injury law can help guide you to your best options and results.
Every case is different, of course, so it’s best to discuss specifics. Simply call into our office in Lake Oswego, near Portland or contact us Toll Free on 855-899-0930. Our focus is always on providing you with excellent service, no matter the size or complexity of your case.