In most car accident cases, it is easy to determine who is liable. Unfortunately, we have all experienced or know someone who has experienced a case where the parties involved produce conflicting statements leading to he said/she said predicaments. This often complicates the process in determining liability, but an experienced personal injury attorney can help determine who is liable for the accident. In most personal injury lawsuits, the person held liable is often another driver. For a two car accident, it's fairly simple as one would look at the other driver for liability. However, for accidents involving multiple vehicles, there are more variables and drivers at play and liability should be considered carefully. Other drivers may be liable if they:
-Violate traffic laws, such as speeding, running red lights, stop signs, failure to yield, making unsafe lane changes, driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence, or other laws designed to protect the public safety and interests.
-Are distracted while driving. This may include talking or texting on the phone, eating, drinking, sleeping, attending to passengers, or even taking their eyes off their eyes off the road for an unsafe period of time.
-Fail to drive with care in hazardous conditions
-Fail to pay attention to the road and those around them. It is the driver’s duty to pay full attention to their surroundings while driving. They should be aware of all the conditions on the road as well as other drivers and pedestrians.
The driver’s employer could also be liable for the accident and your damages. The main question to ask is whether the driver was working during scheduled hours for the employer and if they were doing work for the employer. Some cases can include an employee simply picking up coffee for their boss. But in many cases, employers hire drivers who spend hours on the road as a part of their job. Even Ridesharing employers like Uber and Lyft may be partially liable if their drivers are involved in accidents. Employers have certain responsibilities to uphold when hiring a driver. These responsibilities may include:
-Checking if the driver has caused previous accidents
-Being aware of the driver’s skill and driving manner. If an employer knows that the driver drives in an unsafe manner, it is their responsibility to correct this. The employer may retrain the driver by enrolling them in a driving safety course or even remove them from the road completely. If the employer does not take action against the driver that does not drive safely, they could be held liable or partially liable for an accident that arises from the driver.
- Ensuring the driver is capable of driving. If the employer knows or has suspicions that their driver may be intoxicated, it is their responsibility to remove that driver from the road or not allow them to drive. If the driver were to cause an accident and the employer was aware of their intoxication, they can be held liable for the accident and damages that occur.
-Ensuring that company regulation is followed. For trucking companies, drivers are only allowed to drive for a limited amount of hours per day without taking breaks. However, some employers or truckers do not follow this regulation. This can include falsifying records that keep track of how many hours they drove for that day. It is both the driver and employer’s responsibility to follow this regulation. If they do not, they can be held liable or partially liable for an accident.
Bars and Restaurants could be held liable for accidents as well. Any place that serves alcohol is responsible for who they serve alcohol to. They have a duty to not serve alcohol to anyone who is already intoxicated, especially if that patron is believed to be driving. If a bar or restaurant fails to recognize and continues to serve an inebriated patron, they can be held liable or partially liable if that patron causes an accident.
What if you are liable for the car accident?
Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes we can be distracted at the wheel. Whether it was being on the phone or failing to follow the speed limit, these are factors that may contribute to the accident. In these cases, insurance companies will often assign a percentage of liability to each driver. For example, if a court found you to be 15% liable for the accident, the court will reduce your total damages by that percentage. However if you were found 50% or more liable for the accident, you will be barred from recovery for any damages.