In most states, a person responsible for a car accident is the party legally liable for losses and damages (including injuries to passengers and other drivers) resulting from the accident. These states are referred to as “fault” states, and include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Losses and Damages
Losses and damages that result from car accident claims among these states are generally covered by the “at-fault” party’s insurance company. The at-fault driver will then face an increased car insurance premium. But sometimes, insurance companies are not willing (or extremely hesitant) to payout the full and fair amount of compensation needed by the driver or any injured victims, in which case, a personal injury lawyer is necessary to take control of the negotiations between parties and recover what is rightfully owed.
Although there are various factors and laws that influence the final verdicts of such cases, the main influence is fault. In a fault state, any person injured in a car accident will carry the burden of proving the opponents fault and liability in the accident. In fact, this will be the primary objective for their legal team. This however, can be quite challenging and complex, since fault is not always so cut and dry. For example, if a stop light is not functioning properly and a driver crosses an intersection and collides with another driver, which makes the first driver then collide into a third vehicle, assigning fault is complicated. This is why it is important to retain experienced counsel for professional and assertive representation.
To prove fault, the claimant must prove 4 things:
1. A legal duty of care was owed
In the case of car accidents, all drivers have the legal duty to operate a motor vehicle safely and obey all laws, traffic signals, and rules of the road.
2. The duty was breached.
The claimant would have to provide evidence proving the opponent did not uphold their duty of care.
3. The breach was a direct cause of the accident and subsequent injuries.
Again, the claimant would have to provide evidence demonstrating how the breach led to the accident, which then caused their injuries.
4. The injuries resulted in losses and damages that can be compensated financially.
Last, the claimant has the burden of proving how their injuries caused them to suffer monetarily, such as lost wages, time of work, hospital bills, medical expenses, and more.