Who’s At Fault? Understanding Personal Injury Liability

When car wrecks happen, it may not always be readily apparent who was at fault for the accident. Some accidents involve too many factors to just automatically assign liability. When it comes to how much money you can expect to get for your accident, liability plays a large part. This issue is somewhat confusing, so read on to learn more.

What is meant by liability?

In simplest terms, liability is another way of saying guilt or fault. For auto insurance purposes, liability is broken down into a percentage. If more than one party is at fault for the accident, they may share liability based on that percentage. For example, the insurance adjuster may claim that you are 20% at fault for the accident and that their client is 80% at fault. While this may initially sound like a positive ratio, it's really not a good thing. Whenever the insurance company for the other side attempts to lessen their own liability, it can mean that your own compensation is at risk.

Proving liability

When a car wreck is more complicated, and many are, disagreements over liability can hold up the process for weeks if not months. For the other driver to be assigned 100% liability, there must exist a direct link between their actions on the road and the wreck. If another party "helped" cause the wreck, proving fault won't be easy. For example, what if the driver who hit you was pushed into you by another driver? Your car accident attorney may determine the need to file suit against more than one driver in more complicated scenarios.

To give another example, you might assume that rear-end collisions are always going to be the fault of the driver who did the hitting from behind, but that is not always the case. For example, if any of the following happened to you it may come down to shared liability:

1. The driver in front had non-working brake lights and visibility was limited.

2. A driver in another lane suddenly swerved in front of you in your lane.

3. It was a chain reaction wreck, with you being one of many hit from behind and pushed into the car in front.

4. A driver in front of you on the expressway suddenly stopped in front of you. It may not be possible to halt a car going 65 mph in time to avoid the wreck.

All wrecks are unique, but if you want to ensure that the determination of liability is not left up to the other guy's insurance company you will need to seek help. Speak to a personal injury attorney right way.