Fault and Liability for Motor Vehicle Accidents

shutterstock_454667446If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident of some sort, you are going to need to know the details about how to determine and prove liability and fault — this is doubly the case if you didn’t cause the accident. Sometimes, however, things can get tricky. If you were cut off by another driver and that caused the accident, then they might be at fault. However, if the collision was due in part to the fact that you were speeding, things can get rather tricky.

Fault and liability

In common understanding, there isn’t much difference between fault and liability. In the eyes of the law, however, there is. Generally speaking, “fault” is a common law idea, and the insurance companies are trying to distance the liability of a car accident from the common law “fault.” This, in turn, makes it less difficult for insurance companies to deny fault of their client if the other motorist was neglecting some other part of the law.

For example, if the other driver didn’t have insurance (something required in all fifty American states), that motorist may not be able to prove the liability of the person who actually caused the accident because they are considered negligent in their own way.

The four levels of fault

In order to prove fault, the common law recognizes certain levels of aspects. These include negligence, recklessness (also called “wanton conduct”), intentional misconduct, or strict liability. The most common in car accidents is negligence, which basically just means being careless and doing some unintentional that caused harm in some way. Whether the driver went through a stop sign or simply didn’t check their blind spot, these can both be considered negligent.

Recklessness is more of a choice — the driver is actively choosing not to follow the rules of the road, regardless of how it will affect the drivers around them. Drunk driving is often considered recklessness in the eyes of the law, or else intentional misconduct. Intentional misconduct is, of course, doing something harmful will full intent of it being harmful, while strict liability refers to certain cases such as defective products or other activities that come with additional dangers.

Of course, everything varies by state in the United States. For that reason, it is important to know exactly what your state has for rules and laws in these situations, so you can conduct yourself in a safe manner (with regards to both your personal safety as well as your legal and financial safety).

If you do find yourself in a motor vehicle accident, whether you are at fault or not, the best thing to do is to contact an experienced lawyer. You can usually get a free quote to help you better understand what your rights are and what you can expect. They can help inform you about whether negligence or recklessness was at fault, and whether the other driver was the one who can be considered liable in the eyes of the law.

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