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Determining Fault In A Car Accident

When it comes to car accidents, one of the hardest things to determine is liability for the accident. Determining who pays for accidents in car accidents is known as “fault” in legal parlance. There are different factors that will dictate if you are at fault in an accident where you got involved. According to the website of Habush Habush & Rottier S.C.®, there is an expectation that your insurance provider will pay a portion of your claim. But as mentioned, certain circumstances will determine your liability in a car accident.

Generally, the determination of liability is based on motor vehicle statutes than common law. The car insurance sector has lobbied state legislatures to base liability on motor vehicle statutes than on the traditional common law definition of fault. For this reason, it is much easier for insurance providers to challenge fault and liability when there is violation of traffic laws involved. So a car driver who has no liability insurance may find it difficult to collect damages even if there was partial negligence on the part of the motorist.

Common Law

In common law, there are four basic levels of fault:

  1. Negligence. Negligence is defined as the careless or inadvertent behavior that caused harm or damage to another driver. Not yielding to the right of way or beating the red light is an example of negligence.
  2. Reckless or wanton conduct. This is the willful disregard for the safety or welfare of others.
  3. Intentional Misconduct. When it comes to intentional misconduct, it is so easy to determine fault. Drunk driving is an example of intentional misconduct.
  4. Strict Liability. This may be imposed even without fault if the accident was due to accidents that involved certain defective products or extra hazardous activities.

State Laws

Different states have passed several laws that regulate the manner by which drivers should operate their cars in public roads. Some of these laws are codified versions of common law while others were results of legislative act. These laws always generally carry a presumption of negligence. For instance, since motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets, non-wearing of these safety accessories is a negligent act.

In proving fault based on state laws, it needs to be proven that the negligent act was not the proximate cause of the injuries. So while the non-wearing of helmet may have caused serious injuries to the motorcycle driver after being accidentally sideswiped by a car, there is also negligence on the part of the motorcyclists who did not wear the helmet.

In explaining proximate cause with respect to the motorcycle accident, the helmet would not have prevented the accident from happening but would have limited the injuries. In this case, the car driver may not be held liable for the brain injury of the motorcyclist.