Automobile Accidents – Fault and Liability for Injuries and Property Damages

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Multiple factors are taken into consideration to figure out who is at fault for physical injuries and property damages resulting from an automobile accident. Not all of these key factors are very obvious. The conventional, common definition of ‘fault’ in law jargon is set aside in favor of motor vehicle status to determine who will pay for injuries and/or damages in the event of a car accident.

In this article, we have tried to explain what it means by ‘fault’ in automobile accidents in the context of motor vehicle codes and common laws since it is not as same as other sorts of claims.

Car Accident Liability – Statutory Guidelines

The car insurance industry lobbied state legislatures to make motor vehicle statutes and not the traditional law definition of ‘fault’ as the base for automobile accident liability. It has empowered the insurance companies to challenge the common and traditional law definition of both fault and liability if the other motorist involved in the accident is also found to have been in breach of a traffic law, particularly when liability insurance is a must-require in every state.

A motorist, who does not own any liability insurance, may not afford to collect for damages even if the other party was partially responsible for a traffic accident.

Car Accidents – Liability and Common Law

In its original status, ‘fault’ for an automobile accident is either defined or created by common law that recognizes the following four fundamental levels of fault:

  • Negligence
  • Intentional Misconduct
  • Strict Liability (Not a Function of Fault)
  • Recklessness or Malevolent Misconduct

Negligence: It is the act of unintentional or careless conduct resulting into damages or harms that are quite common in car accidents. Failing to follow the traffic rule, which could have avoided the accident, can be an action of negligence and only proper investigation can dig out the cause of the mayhem.

Recklessness or Malevolent Conduct: Such a conduct can be defined as the intentional disregard for and indifference to others’ safety and welfare. Liability in its strictest form may be imposed whether or not there is a fault, for automobile accidents caused due to additional hazardous activities or defective products (for example, transportation of explosive chemicals).

According to common law, whoever is responsible for the car accident has committed a ‘tort’ – a term used to define a private wrong done to another though not anywhere close to an intentional crime or tort. “Tortfeasors” are a term reserved for the individuals found guilty of committing a tort. Many car insurance companies use “tortfeasor” for those, who are at fault – fully or partially –for the accident.

Intentional Misconduct: The concept of ‘fault’ takes a backseat when a motorist’s reckless or intentional misconduct – for example, drunk driving – has caused the accident. In case of general negligence such as fender bender or other kinds of routine automobile accidents, proving fault is complex beyond imagination.

More than one party may be found liable for the accident, at least partially. In cases where several tortfeasors are involved, state law determines who should pay for property damages and/or injuries to those who have sustained the harm.

Final Words

If you have been involved in an automobile accident, make sure to seek help from a Colorado Springs Car Accident Lawyer with your accident-related fault and liability queries.

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