Who Pays When You Sue In a Car Accident?
May 28, 2022 | Car Accidents
Whether it is a fender bender accident or a multiple-car pileup, car accidents seriously impact victims. Car accident victims can suffer serious injuries that can permanently affect their bodies for the rest of their lives.
Victims are also at risk of suffering from severe mental disorders weeks and months after an accident. Some car accidents are so fatal that they can kill victims instantly at the accident scene. Because car accidents can have a lasting impact on victims, the at-fault parties of car accidents need to be liable.
Differences Between Fault and Liability
When you pursue a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident, you and your legal representation will establish a factor called negligence. Negligence is a factor in personal injury lawsuits that measures how a defendant’s careless actions caused harm to a plaintiff.
When referring to negligence, you may come across the terms fault and liability. Many people assume that these two terms mean the same thing; however, there are differences in who provides compensation.
How Is Fault Determined?
Fault is the factor that determines a party’s liability. In a car accident, for example, the court will determine fault based on the negligent actions of each party. If you are driving with your family and another driver strikes your vehicle from behind, that other driver can be at fault for you and your family’s injuries.
When a party is determined to be negligent, that party is responsible for providing all or a portion of the victim’s damages due to the party’s actions. This point is where liability comes in.
How Can Liability Be Determined?
Liability is the financial responsibility that a party holds for an injured victim. Liability does not just fall on parties who are at fault for a person’s injuries. A driver can be at fault for a car accident; however, the driver’s insurance company can be held liable for the other driver’s injuries. Like a driver’s insurance company, you can hold other parties like a car manufacturer or a government entity held liable for your injuries.
Car Accidents Due to Other Drivers
One of the main parties you can sue for injuries from a car accident is other drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 94 to 96 percent of all car accidents result from human error. These human errors can range from cutting other drivers off to falling asleep behind the wheel. Some of the primary human errors that lead to serious car accidents involve distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding, and aggressive driving.
#1. Car Accidents Due to Distracted Driving
Cell phone use is one of the significant sources of distracted driving; however, the law classifies any activity that takes a driver’s eyes off the road as distracted driving.
#2. Car Accidents Due to Impaired Driving
Drivers who intentionally get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or an illegal substance put themselves and other motorists at risk. Driving in an impaired state reduces a driver’s ability to judge their distances and react quickly to any changes on the roads.
#3. Speeding is Another Common Cause of Car Accidents
Speeding is an action that leads to the deadliest car accidents nationwide. Like impaired driving, speeding reduces a driver’s ability to react quickly and safely to traffic changes. In car accidents like head-on collisions, speed is one factor that can make the injuries in this type of accident more fatal. Drivers traveling at a certain speed are at risk of still moving at that same speed – even after coming into contact with an immovable object like a wall.
#4. Aggressive Driving Car Accidents
Aggressive driving is one of the primary causes of car accidents. In addition to speeding, drivers are guilty of aggressive driving when they cut other drivers off, tailgate other drivers, and make dangerous passing maneuvers to pass other vehicles. Many aggressive driving actions are reckless and can place the lives of other motorists and pedestrians in danger.
Car Accidents Caused By Car Manufacturers
Another party that you can hold liable for your car accident injuries is car manufacturers. While driver error is the leading cause of car accidents, the negligent actions of car manufacturers can create a car accident. Manufacturers can prevent car accidents through vehicle recalls.
After Congress passed the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act in 1966, federal organizations began to take vehicle recalls seriously. Vehicle recalls are issued by either the manufacturer or the NHTSA when they discover a car contains a defective part that can place consumers in significant harm. Common defective parts that cause safety defects in vehicles are seat belts, tires, child safety seats, and engine failures.
Car Accidents Due to Negligent Road Maintenance
Many car accident victims may not know that government agencies can also be held liable for their accidents. Like driver error and manufacturer negligence, failure to properly maintain the roads can also lead to serious car accidents. Local and state agencies have a legal obligation to maintain the safety of the roadways. This mandate includes keeping all types of road hazards away from motorists and pedestrians.
Some of the common road hazards that many drivers come in contact with are:
- Flood drainage
- Malfunctioning traffic signs
- Damaged guardrails
- Broken or uneven pavement
- Confusing or hard-to-read signs
- Poorly marked work zones
These are just some road hazards that government agencies are responsible for removing. Road design and maintenance are just a few of the responsibilities of these government agencies in establishing public safety. Government agencies can be held accountable in a court of law for failing to maintain road safety properly. This action is considered a breach of duty to the residents.
Liable Parties For Car Accidents
When it comes to car accidents caused by other drivers, the driver’s insurance company can be held liable for the injuries caused by the accident. When you sue for the damages of your car accident, the other driver’s insurance policy can offer you the compensation you deserve. Many drivers’ auto insurance policies provide coverage for the injuries that other parties sustain from car accidents.
Some of the insurance policies that can offer you compensation include:
- Personal injury protection (PIP). Personal injury protection coverage is coverage that a driver carries to cover the expenses of any injured parties involved in a car accident. This coverage is no-fault coverage and can compensate you and any passengers in your vehicle injured in the accident. Some of the costs covered through this policy include medical expenses, lost earnings, or burial costs.
- Bodily injury liability. Some auto insurance policies cover bodily injury liability insurance, which compensates passengers injured in the other vehicle. Because PIP does not cover all of the compensation that car accident victims request, bodily injury liability provides excellent coverage for drivers who were at fault for a car accident and are responsible for compensating all car accident victims.
- Property damage. Property damage liability insurance is the coverage that victims use to retain compensation for any repairs needed for their vehicles. Personal injury protection and bodily injury liability only compensate for the physical injuries you and your passengers sustained from car accidents. Property damage liability is a great way to provide coverage for the necessary repairs to your vehicle and can even pay for the expenses of a new car if you need it.
What Is Manufacturer Liability?
If you or your loved one have suffered a car accident caused by a safety defect in a vehicle, you can hold the manufacturer liable for your injuries. Manufacturers and other American businesses have a legal obligation to provide safe products for all consumers to use.
This obligation means manufacturers have a legal duty to go above and beyond when testing the effectiveness of their products. When someone discovers that a product contains a safety defect, that is an example of negligence on the manufacturer’s part.
Manufacturers can create:
- Design defects. Manufacturers create design defects when there is a defect created within the design of a product. Design defects are defects that can affect an entire product line. These defects are common in vehicle recalls, as most manufacturers recall vehicles after finding the same defect in the whole line.
- Manufacturing defects. Manufacturers create these defects when they find a specific defect within a few products of the same line. These defects arise from an error made during the manufacturing stage. Car manufacturers can create these defects when a mistake in manufacturing results in defective parts like seat belts and child safety seats.
- Marketing defects. Manufacturers create these defects when they fail to attach the correct safety instructions or warning labels to their products. Every product in the marketplace contains safety instructions and warnings that help consumers use it to the best of their ability. Manufacturers who fail to provide this critical information are risking consumers’ lives. Manufacturers can also create this type of defect when they intentionally place false claims on their products. An example of false claims involves stating that a product can perform an action that it cannot do.
Government Agency Liability
Government agencies can be held liable for car accidents in several scenarios.
Car Accidents Due to Poor Road Maintenance
Sinkholes, potholes, confusing traffic signs, and poor road design can cause several car accidents. While it is difficult to determine how negligent government agencies have been in road design and maintenance, it is essential to establish the government agency responsible for maintaining road safety.
One factor that can establish the negligence of a government agency is how many warnings the government agency has received about the road hazard. If there has been a track record of the government agency receiving numerous warnings about the road hazard and failing to rectify them, that can be an example of negligence.
Car Accidents Involving Government Vehicles
Another scenario where government agencies can cause car accidents is using a government vehicle. Government workers who drive recklessly in a government-issued car risk causing a car accident. When government workers cause these car accidents, the government agency representing the government worker can be held liable for the worker’s reckless actions.
How an Attorney Can Help in a Car Accident Claim?
Whether a negligent driver caused your car accident, a reckless car manufacturer, or a negligent government agency, one thing is sure. All parties will fight to deny you the compensation you deserve. The driver’s insurance company, in particular, will try all types of deceptive practices to prove that you were the negligent party in your accident.
When it comes to car manufacturers, manufacturers are more concerned with their reputation than the consumers’ safety. Manufacturers will prefer to settle your accident silently than bring attention to their negligent business practices.
Government agencies will also attempt to silence you and offer you a meager settlement instead of awarding you the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can help provide you with the legal expertise to fight these enormous conglomerates for your compensation. It can seem like you are fighting against powerful entities with more resources that can handle you in any fashion they like. Having a lawyer on your side can provide you with the legal perspective you need to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Speak to An Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or your loved one have been a car accident victim, an experienced lawyer can help provide the legal advice you need to hold the necessary parties accountable. Call a car accident attorney today to schedule a consultation about your case.
Your compensation depends on the strength of the case, and you should never represent yourself in a claim against liable parties of a car accident. Doing so puts you at risk of taking home much less than you truly need and deserve for your injuries and losses.
Just as you want a trained doctor to address your injuries and medical needs after a crash, you want a trained legal professional handling your car accident claim.