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Explore General Legal Issues

What To Know About Car Accident Liability

by Ralph Griffin

When it comes to car accidents, the first issue to be resolved is almost always that of fault. The driver that causes a wreck is said to be liable for the accident damages — meaning they are responsible for paying the expenses of the other driver. This important aspect of a car accident and it is resolved can be very simple or it can be complex. To learn more, read on.

Liability Is Determined

Liability is determined through a series of investigations that begin with the responding law enforcement personnel. These officers will observe the following factors and a summary of how they think the accident happened will appear in the police or accident report:

  • The location of damage on a vehicle
  • Skid marks on the road surface
  • Eyewitness statements from other passengers, bystanders, and video devices
  • Interviews with both drivers

The resulting report is available either right away from the patrol car printer or later at the office of the responding agency. This report is a must-have for everyone involved in an accident.

Liability May Be Shared

It can take two (or more) drivers to cause a crash. However, even if one driver did not actually cause the wreck, they might still be held partially liable. That is due to a legal concept known as mitigation. Here is an example: if one vehicle stops suddenly in the middle of a road where the speed limit is 35 mph or more, it might cause a wreck — a rear-end type wreck. The car in the rear may not have had enough time to stop before crashing. If both drivers failed to do everything possible to avoid a collision, they might both be held liable. In that case, liability is expressed as a percentage.

Liability Percentages

When drivers share liability, it matters a great deal how much fault each driver is assigned. The driver who is 10% at fault for an accident is only responsible for 10% of the other driver's damages in most states. The other driver has to cover 90% of the damages. Often, shared liability cases must be investigated by experts like accident re-constructionists who reenact accidents and use computer modeling to step back in time and see what happened and how it occurred. If you are found to be any amount at fault, your chances of being paid for losses like lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more are at risk.

Speak to a personal injury lawyer like Phillip Koutsogiane Attorney at Law to ensure that the accident claim is resolved in a fair and accurate manner.