The terms “fault” and “liability” are two of the most important terms that you will come to understand in the coming weeks and months following a car accident because they are central to determining who caused the accident, who is the victim, and therefore who is responsible for making payments to cover the damages. In the early days following an accident, it will be extremely important that you and your lawyer take the appropriate steps to gather evidence that will help to support your argument by establishing fault and liability, at which point you can move forward in calculating and negotiating the actual compensation that you deserve.
As soon as you are able to—and before you file an insurance claim—you should start looking for a lawyer to guide you through this process. As soon as you file an insurance claim, the insurance company will take every action and statement that you make and attempt to use it to their own advantage by poking holes in your case and limiting your final settlement. With an attorney handling these steps, you won’t need to worry about an innocent statement coming back to haunt you. Visit 1800injured.care for a hassle-free way to get connected with a lawyer now, so that you can take on the insurance company with support.
Determining Fault and Liability
Determining who is at fault for a car accident is essential in order to determine what sort of legal recourse exists for seeking compensation for damages such as personal injury damages and property damage. To determine who was at fault, there are a variety of factors and legal guidelines that you and your attorney will need to work through. This process can be supported by eyewitness accounts, traffic cameras, dashboard cameras, and a variety of other methods that your lawyer will know to leverage.
Fault determines who caused the accident, but it does not necessarily determine who is legally responsible for the damages. This is determined through liability, which oftentimes has complete overlap with fault, but is not always the case. When a driver rear-ends another vehicle at a stop sign, they are at fault for the accident; as you will see below though, they are not necessarily strictly liable.
Liability is the term for being legally responsible for something, not just having caused something. For example, when a driver has an insurance policy and causes injuries to someone in an accident, the driver is at fault for the accident, but the insurance company is liable for the payments made to the victim. This is an important distinction to make, because insurance exists to protect policyholders from liability.
If you are in an accident with an insured driver (and that driver is at fault for the crash), then the insurance policy will take liability for the payments that you are entitled to. If the driver does not have insurance, then they will need to accept liability and you may ultimately file a lawsuit directly against the driver to recover damages. This is problematic for a variety of reasons, one being that an individual may not have the financial resources to compensate you, whereas an insurance company has the financial resources to do so (even though you will need to put up a fight to get what you actually deserve).