There are many factors that go into determining who the liable party is in an automobile accident. For example, one car can seriously sideswipe another car if the second car suddenly cut in front of him. However, this may not be the second car’s fault. It is possible that the first car could have been speeding or was in the wrong lane. It could also be possible that the driver of the first car was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The final decision as to who is legally responsible for injuries or damage in car accidents is mostly dependent on motor vehicle statutes rather than the traditional definition of fault.
The automobile insurance agency has lobbied several states to base car accident liability more on motor vehicle statutes than traditional ideas of fault. This was done to make it easier for insurers to challenge liability when a party to an accident has violated a traffic law. Liability insurance is a requirement in all states so if you are injured in an accident and you do not have insurance, you still may not be able to collect damages if the other driver was negligent or partially negligent for the accident.
Common law recognizes four levels of fault: negligence, recklessness, intentional misconduct and strict liability. Negligence can be categorized as failing to do something, such as not giving the right of way to a pedestrian, or actively doing something, such as not stopping at a stop sign. Recklessness is a display of willful disregard for the safety of others, i.e., driving under the influence. Every state has laws that regulate the way drivers operate their vehicles on public roads. Some of these statutes are codified versions of common law and others are the result of legislative initiatives. An example of this would be the state law that motorcyclists must wear helmets. If you disregard this law and fail to wear a helmet, you are acting negligently, which will affect liability in an accident.
One of the simplest ways to determine fault or liability in an accident is through the use of the “but for” rule. This concept asks whether the accident would not have happened, or the injuries would have been far less serious, ‘but for’ the negligence or violation of the law.
If you have been seriously injured in an automobile accident, contact the experienced and skilled attorneys at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP NY. Call us at 877-504-5562 or email [email protected]. We can help.