Imagine driving down the street when a car suddenly turns in front of you and causes an accident. The other driver caused the accident that injured you and damaged your car. Obviously, it was his fault. Open and shut case, right? Not necessarily.
Many factors go into determining who is liable for damages after a collision. For example, if you were speeding or made an illegal lane change in the above scenario, you could be partially to blame for the accident. The auto insurance industry has taken steps to make it easier for them to challenge and deny claims. They have done this by lobbying state legislatures to create vehicle statutes that assign blame to the driver that was not directly at fault if he or she was violating motorist laws.
Dealing with a car insurance company can be very difficult. If you or someone you love has been involved in a motor vehicle accident due to someone else's negligence, it is important to understand your rights and options. A Pittsburgh attorney experienced with personal injury claims can advise you on to proceed with your case. Read further for an overview of fault and liability in car accidents.
Common law fault
Under common law, there are four levels of fault. These are negligence, recklessness, intentional misconduct and strict liability. In general, negligence means that an individual engaged in careless or inadvertent conduct that caused harm or damage. Negligence can occur when someone fails to do something or when he or she is actively engaged in doing something. For example, if a car did not yield right-of-way, that is failure to do something. If a car runs a stop sign, that is actively doing something.
Reckless or intentional conduct is behaving in a way that shows a complete disregard for other people's safety. The court can impose strict liability even if an individual was not at fault. This is usually reserved for situations that involve defective products or hazardous activities, such as airbag failure or the transportation of dangerous materials.
Each state has laws that regulate drivers. This includes people who operate vehicles on public roads and licensing and insurance requirements. In many cases, these statutes are official versions of common law standards, but some are also due to legislature. If individuals fail to adhere to these statutes, then the court could assign them a portion of the blame for their injuries.
For example, if you were in a wreck and you were not wearing your seat belt (as required by law) the court could hold you partially to blame for your injuries. This is because your failure to follow the seat belt law is, in the court's view, and act of negligence.
Determining fault in a motor vehicle accident can be very complicated. In most cases, car insurance companies will exploit every option to avoid paying a claim in full or at all. If someone else's negligence has caused you or a loved one to be injured, you may be able to file a claim.