FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-09-24
No one expects that they will get into a motor vehicle accident as they pull out of their garage to go to work in the morning. However, getting into an accident is usually a question of “when,” not “if”. The average American will be involved in a motor vehicle accident once every ten years. When the accident does occur, it is important to know how to determine who is liable for the injuries and property damage that results.
What Is Liability?
In a motor vehicle accident, the party that causes the crash is liable for the accident, meaning that they are responsible for compensating injured parties. Both people and corporations can be held liable for automobile accidents and more than one party may be found liable for a crash.
There are four main types of common law liability that may apply to car accidents. Negligence is a common cause of crashes. If a driver is negligent, he or she failed to take reasonable care when driving, leading to an accident. For example, if a driver is texting while driving and then rear ends another driver, he or she can be found negligent for failing to watch the road and be held liable for the injury or damage caused to the other party.
Drivers may also be held liable for an automobile accident if they intentionally disobey the rules of the road or drive recklessly. In these cases, the motorists act with willful disregard for the safety of fellow road users and are liable for the accidents this reckless behavior may cause.
Corporations can also be held liable for motor vehicle accidents. If a defect in the design or manufacture of a vehicle is found to have contributed to an accident, the automobile manufacturer can be held responsible. In some cases, companies may be held absolutely liable—meaning they are at fault no matter who or what caused an accident—if they are participating in extremely dangerous activities, like hauling hazardous chemicals via freight truck.
Who Is Responsible for a Rear-End Accident?
In most rear-end accidents, the driver who rear-ends another driver is liable for any injuries or property damage because the law requires all motorists to maintain adequate space in front of them so they can stop without hitting another driver. While the driver who rear ends another driver is most often at fault, some exceptions exist that may reduce their liability.
One exception is in a car pile-up, where one driver is rear-ended with such force that he or she hits the car in front of him or her. Though this driver is responsible for covering the injuries and property damage he or she causes to the front car, the third party that hit him or her driver may also be held liable for these injuries and damage. Liability may also be reduced if a driver hits the car in front of him or her because the front car has its brake lights out or stops in the middle of the road to avoid a broken down car rather than merges into another lane.
In any type of accident, it is important to determine who is responsible for your injuries and any property damage so you can be compensated for your losses. To understand how to hold the driver liable for your injuries responsible, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you.