Liability and fault in an automobile accident refers to the responsibility and obligation of the party that caused the accident to make amends. The burden of the party at fault is usually fulfilled by compensating the injured party injured for medical expenses or property damage sustained as a result of causing the accident. Generally, a party is at fault for the two most common reasons:
- Negligence. Negligence takes place when an individual carelessly or thoughtlessly engages in an act, which most reasonable people would foresee causing harm.
- Recklessness. Recklessness occurs when an individual willfully, wantonly, and knowingly engages in an act that is likely to produce harm.
Often times, fault is one of the largest aspects affecting one’s ability to acquire damages. Some states have no-fault rules, which means insurers pay for their own clients’ injuries, regardless of the party that actually caused the accident.
Many other states consider and factor in the amount of fault shared by each party and place limits on the amount of damages you can collect, by calculating how much you contributed to the accident.
Mississippi follows another method to determine fault and liability for parties involved in automobile accidents. This system is known as pure comparative fault, where all parties involved are entitled to compensation for damages. However, your damages may be reduced by a percentage equal to your share of the fault.
Determining the fault of a party involved may be more complicated than it seems. It isn’t always simply about looking at which car hit the other. Insurance companies and lawyers for all parties involved will examine police reports to note if officers issued citations or any negligence that took place by one or more parties. Citations are not conclusive in terms of proving fault, but can offer support to additional evidence.
Witness statements that are reliable can assist in determining the sequence of events leading to the crash. Also, identifying specific rules in the state vehicle code that a driver violated may also help to designate fault. More often than not, a final determination of fault is generally subjective. However, there are two types of automobile accidents where liability is usually clear and fairly simple to assess:
- Rear-end Crashes. This takes place when you hit the car directly in front of you. A situation like this generally occurs because a driver fails to follow the universally accepted safe driving rule requiring that you leave enough room between your car and the one in front of you to be able to stop safely and even abruptly at any time due to traffic conditions or unexpected occurrences on the road. The other party may share blame with you if the car you hit had defective brake lights, or if another party, presumably a vehicle behind yours that pushed you into the car in front of you.
- Left Turn Crashes. If your car is hit while in the process of making a left turn, it is likely because you tried making an unsafe turn. Thus, being the liable party causing the accident. A couple of exceptions might be if the other party was driving above the speed limit or ran a red light. However, you should normally be able to perceive this behavior and take caution before turning left.
If you have been in an automobile accident and are seeking counsel to assist you with your case, do not hesitate to contact the Giddens Law Firm at 601-355-2022. Learn how our Mississippi auto accident attorneys may be able to help you receive the compensation you deserve!