Have you been involved in an auto accident? One of the most important elements of getting the compensation you need and deserve for any injuries is to understand who may be liable for the accident. To help you determine this and successfully seek damages from the right parties, here are seven parties who may be involved and why.
1. The Other Driver
The driver who causes a vehicle on vehicle or vehicle on pedestrian accident is generally the primary person at fault. After all, they were in control of the vehicle at the time. This driver and their insurance are the most likely to be held responsible and the easiest route to take when seeking damages.
2. An Employer
Employers may come into play if the person who hit you was on the clock for their employer. Because they are considered to be working as an agent for the employer, that employer may be involved through the legal concept of vicarious liability. The definition of what it means to be working for their employer, though may not be as cut-and-dry as it sounds.
3. A Car’s Owner
The owner of a car or truck is unlikely to be held directly liable for an accident caused by some other driver in their vehicle. However, they could be partially liable for what is known as negligent entrustment — giving the keys for the car to a person they knew to be an unsafe driver.
4. A Parent
What if the person who hit you is a minor? In this case, many injured persons will need to pursue the driver’s legal parent or guardian for compensation.
To begin with, the car is probably covered by the parent’s insurance whether or not their child is a named driver. However, as with any other car owner, the parent may be liable for negligent entrustment if they knew or should have known the teen was an unsafe driver. You may also argue that the parent is responsible if the teen driver was acting as a sort of agent at the direction of the parent.
5. Multiple Drivers
In some cases, an accident may involve several vehicles, making liability murkier. Every attempt to determine who was initially responsible for the crash, such as the first car to rear-end another. However, as the cars pile up, liability becomes harder and harder to pin down. If several drivers were speeding when the first crash occurred, they may all hold some responsibility for the results.
Unfortunately, the victim may bear some responsibility for their own accident. How might this happen? If you were sideswiped by another car but were speeding at the time, both you and the other driver may have to bear some liability. Generally, that liability is divided up based on how responsible each party was. You may be deemed liable for 25% of the accident and receive 75% of possible compensation.
7. Property Owners and Others
Some accidents are unique and require special handling. For example, consider a car accident whose root cause was a poorly-maintained road on which ice isn’t cleared routinely after a storm. In this case, an injured party may have a case that the local city government is partially or wholly at fault because they failed to respond to a known road maintenance issue.
In the same way, premises liability may come into play if your accident was on private property. Even a pedestrian may share some of the liability for an accident if they were using the road in an unsafe manner that resulted in an accident (for instance, jaywalking).
Where to Learn More
Clearly, many different individuals and companies could be liable for what happened to you. The best way to sort this out is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in your state as early as possible.
Call on The Wenck Firm to make sure that no stone is left unturned. We will work with you to assess all possible parties you may need to pursue and get the overall compensation you need. Call today to make an appointment.
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