Determining Car Accident Liability
What Do “Fault” and “Liability” Mean?
In personal injury cases, to get compensation, a plaintiff must show that their injuries have been caused by the negligence of another person. Negligence is defined as one person breaching their duty of care, which results in an injury. For example, when you’re on the road, you have a certain responsibility for the safety of other drivers. If you’re speeding or driving recklessly, you are not maintaining your duty of care, and you are liable for your risky behavior.
All states have their own laws in personal injury cases, but California uses comparative fault law, sometimes known as comparative negligence. What this means is that a percentage of fault can be attributed to various parties. For example, one driver could be 25% at fault while another could be 75% at fault. This percentage can then be used to determine how much damages are given to someone who has been injured. The plaintiff’s compensations will be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if someone is 10% at fault and they are awarded $10,000, their total payment will be $9,000 after deducting the 10%.
Not only does California have a comparative fault law, but it also is a pure comparative fault state. Thus, even someone who has all but one percent of fault can recover a portion of the damages. This law allows more people to get compensation for their injuries, even if they are partly liable for the accident.
How to Determine Liability in a Car Accident
Car crashes can have long and painful consequences. Driver Knowledge suggests there are three million car crash injuries in the United States each year, and 27% of all accidents result in non-fatal but often serious injuries. Additionally, Safer America says that car accidents are the number one cause of serious injury in the United States, and these accidents come with a cost of around $242 billion each year. These accidents have extreme consequences for individuals and society at large, and part of those costs include legal settlements. To get damages after an accident, lawyers must help their clients determine fault and liability to show that the other party has caused the accident.
Determining the Cause of Car Accidents
When building a case for clients, one of the most important considerations is what caused the accident. Lawyers will use police reports, witness statements, depositions, and other tools to determine what happened to cause an accident and how that accident has caused the personal injury of a client. Determining cause helps determine liability and shows how another party has breached their duty of care.
Car accidents are caused by many factors. Some of the most fatal causes of accidents include alcohol use, speeding, and reckless driving. All of these behaviors also result from at least one person acting negligently. These behaviors can also increase the odds of non-fatal, serious injuries, which have larger impacts on people’s lives.
Another common cause of collisions that NHSTA reports is distracted driving, and if you text while driving, getting into an accident is twenty-three times more likely. Again, finding proof of distracted driving can help build your case.
How Does a Lawyer Prove Fault in a Personal Injury Case?
The first step is always a consultation. An experienced attorney will look over your case and determine if it fits your needs. The consultation is a great opportunity for you to see if you get along well with the law firm and feel comfortable letting them lead your case. You can also answer other questions you may have about what happens going forward.
From there, the process will consist of sending a demand letter, which is basically your argument about why the other party should pay your damages. This letter includes information such as why the defendant is at fault, what injuries were experienced, how much damage was done, and any other relevant information. Your personal injury lawyer will help you file your complaint and take charge of the discovery process (gathering evidence and investigating the claim).
Many people get nervous about the thought of going to trial. However, the majority of cases settle out of court. Settlements are often better for everyone. They save the costs of going to court, and they are usually a safer bet. That doesn’t mean that lawyers will take the first settlement that is offered. Instead, they negotiate better terms for clients. Many individuals buckle under pressure when negotiating with insurance companies or other lawyers, but your dedicated legal team should fight to get terms that match the severity of the accident.
When a settlement cannot be reached, the case may go to trial, and during a trial, a judge or jury will determine what the outcome will be. Trials are not ideal because they cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. Even after a decision has been reached, parties are allowed to file an appeal, which can make the process even more arduous.
Contact a Dedicated Car Crash Lawyer in Santa Ana
Riverview Accident Lawyers wants to help you if you have been injured in a car crash. Car accidents are some of the most harmful accidents worldwide, and when a person has been hurt in one of these accidents, they deserve to be treated with compassion, commitment, and diligence. Our law firm offers all those things and more. We don’t want to just give our clients more money; we want to offer them peace of mind and the chance to improve their quality of life. There’s no better personal injury law firm in Santa Ana. Schedule your free consultation today.