If you have been involved in an auto accident, you may have many questions. One of those questions may revolve around your legal rights or obligations in the aftermath of the accident. As a general rule, a person may take legal action if you caused an accident. Alternatively, you may take legal action against against any party responsible for causing a crash that you were involved in.
Who Determines Fault for an Accident?
When the accident first happens, a police officer will be called to the scene. He or she will take statements and review any available evidence at the scene. After doing so, the officer will make an initial determination of fault. It may also be possible to determine what caused the accident to occur.
This is important because the person deemed to be at fault will likely be liable for damages in a lawsuit. Furthermore, determining how the accident happened may reveal if driver negligence caused the collision to take place. That is important because a personal injury lawsuit generally cannot proceed unless negligent actions were taken to cause someone to get hurt.
Do You Have Insurance?
If you have insurance, it may cover some or all of the damage caused in a crash. Generally, your policy will cover bodily injury, damage done to a vehicle and damage done to property inside of a vehicle. In a no-fault state, you will make a claim on your own policy regardless of who caused the crash to occur.
However, it may still be possible to file a lawsuit to recover any compensation over what your policy pays out. Your insurance company may also take the other driver to court if it feels that he or she caused the accident. Such a lawsuit may be aimed at recouping any money that it paid out to its policyholder.
What If Events Outside My Control Caused an Accident to Occur?
If an accident occurred because your brakes didn’t work properly, the manufacturer of the vehicle may be liable for damages incurred. The same is true if another driver hit you because their vehicle malfunctioned. Government agencies may be liable for accidents that occur because of poorly maintained roads or other dangerous conditions that they did not remedy.
Can Both Drivers Be At Fault?
Yes, it is possible for both drivers to share fault in an accident. Let’s say a vehicle was struck from behind by another vehicle. The driver who was in control of the vehicle that made first contact would be liable for not exercising enough caution to avoid the accident.
However, if the other driver was braking erratically, he or she could be liable for acting in dangerous manner as well. This referred to as contributory or comparative negligence, and it could reduce what a driver who is at fault for causing an accident may have to pay in damages.
Cases Can Be Settled Outside of a Courtroom
In many cases, a driver may file a lawsuit to protect his or her legal rights. However, this does not mean that a case is going to trial. This is because personal injury cases can take years to resolve through the court system. Even if a case does receive a court date, a judge may require that all parties involved continue to negotiate. It is also possible that a case will be settled during a trial or even after a trial has been concluded.
If you have been involved in an auto accident, there is a chance that a lawsuit may be coming. Ideally, you will talk to an attorney about your rights and your options for resolving the matter. Your insurance company may also work with you in an effort to find a favorable outcome.