Assigning blame for a car accident isn’t a black and white task. While you might believe any car that hits another car is legally liable for the accident, that’s not always true. In fact, it’s not uncommon for multiple drivers to share in legal liability for an accident.
If you’ve suffered injuries from a car accident where somebody else hit you, it’s possible that a third-party contributed to the accident. It’s equally possible for you to have contributed to the accident.
A good lawyer will look at all the evidence to see if there are multiple at-fault drivers. Many times, legal liability is distributed between two or more parties, in proportion to their contribution.
Liability determines compensation
Due to liability laws, being injured in a car accident doesn’t guarantee you’ll recover compensation. Liability must be established first before you can collect compensation for your injuries. In some cases, if you played even a small part in causing the accident, you’ll lose the ability to file a personal injury claim.
In other words, to recover compensation for your injuries, you can’t be at fault.
Don’t assume the driver who hit you is automatically at fault
It’s important to understand that third parties might have contributed to the cause of your car accident including other drivers, pedestrians, and automakers.
Other drivers might be liable
Distracted drivers are known to cause accidents by texting, reading emails, and even eating. A driver engaging in any activity that prevents their full attention from being on the road puts all other drivers at risk.
Automakers could be liable
According to Raybin & Weissman, if any vehicle involved in a crash had parts that malfunctioned or that were recalled, the parts manufacturers and automakers could be held liable for the accident.
In 2018, for example, a Honda airbag inflator ruptured, causing an accident for the driver of a 2004 Honda Odyssey. The airbags inflate on impact when a chemical reaction causes a small explosion. Nashville-based news outlet The Tennessean reported that a manufacturing defect made the ammonium nitrate unstable when exposed to high temperatures and humidity. The pressurized canisters have injured hundreds and killed at least 23 people.
Pedestrians can be liable, too
It’s hard to think that a pedestrian could be the cause of a car accident, but it happens. For example, kids regularly stand on the side of the road and shoot at cars with bb guns, pellet guns, and sometimes .22 caliber rifles. Most of the time, the projectiles shatter windows, which causes the driver to panic. While most drivers safely pull over to the side of the road, they could just as easily end up in an accident by hitting someone or swerving into another lane.
If the driver of a motor vehicle were to hit another car after having their window shot out, the shooter could be held legally liable for the subsequent accident (provided the shooter could be identified and found). If the shooter isn’t found, the driver might be able to avoid some legal liability if there’s enough evidence that a third party caused the accident. However, when dealing with insurance companies, if that third party can’t be found, the driver will have to take the hit.
Liability is a complex issue
There’s nothing simple about liability today. It’s not something you can determine for yourself without a deep investigation into the facts of the crash, looking at the evidence, and interviewing witnesses. Those actions are all best left to an attorney.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t try to negotiate with an insurance company on your own. If you believe only one driver is at fault, your compensation may not cover all of your medical bills. A lawyer can help you recover compensation from multiple drivers when appropriate.
If you’re injured, don’t waste any more time. Contact a lawyer immediately to increase your chances of recovering the compensation you deserve.