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Who’s At Fault For A Car Accident?


Date: March 24, 2013

This article shares some great advice from attorney, Aaron Crane from Cantor Crane discussing who is at fault for an accident.  Determining fault for an accident can be a difficult process, depending on the state in which the accident occurs. All states use some form of comparative negligence doctrine with the exception of a few states that deny personal injury claims to those who are at fault for any portion of the accident. Most states use a “modified” comparative negligence doctrine that will deny damages to any individual who is over 50% responsible for an accident. This applies to all personal injury claims. But, on the by and large, most personal injury claims are the result of an auto accident, which can be very complicated when the accident is reconstructed and percentage of fault is determined for each driver involved in the crash. This condition is why it is imperative for all individuals injured in a car accident to have professional legal representation by a car accident lawyer with years of experience.

Comparative Fault in Arizona

The state of Arizona uses the “pure” comparative negligence doctrine, which means that the only injured driver that is not entitled to damages is one who is found by a jury to be 100% at fault for an accident. Insurance carriers will often attempt to influence comparative negligence determinations while negotiating a settlement before a jury trial begins, so having a personal injury attorney will help keep this negotiating tactic at a minimum. Your attorney can investigate the accident as well and offer a competing argument with respect to your percentage of comparative fault that the insurance company is claiming, including the percentage determination of the official accident reconstruction specialist. The lower your comparative negligence percentage, the higher your possibility to be made whole via personal injury damage claims.

Drivers who Violate driving Laws 

Depending on material case factors, drivers who are violating traffic laws in any respect will usually be assessed a high percentage of fault. When both drivers are in violation of traffic laws, such as both vehicles exceeding the speed limit at the time of a crash, the case can become more complicated. Individuals who are driving under the influence, especially those who are over the legal alcohol concentration limit, will normally be assessed a higher percentage of fault. This can occur even if the impaired driver is not issued a citation. For other drivers, actions such as failure to use turn signals or passing in a no passing zone can be just as problematic. In addition, vehicles are often inspected for malfunction or insufficient safety features by legal representatives, which can also be used in court in assessing comparative negligence levels. This is by no means a scientific process, and solid legal counsel can help your case immensely.

Personal and Witness Statements

Many accidents share a similar trait of competing versions of events. Sometimes even an innocent bystander can provide the evidence necessary to help assess a fault percentage for each driver. Actually, many times the innocent witness is the most dependable testimony. Usually the percentage of fault for each driver is measured using verifiable physical documentation that can be supplied by the injured plaintiff as well as medical professionals and police officers. Anytime you are involved in an accident and are still able to act following the mishap, it is a good idea to gather as much documentation as possible, including taking photographs or finding an eye witness that support your individual testimony.

Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney after an Accident 

It is clear that most auto accidents are unique in material case facts in some manner. This area is where your case will be won or lost based on the issues, and it is never a good decision to attempt handling a personal injury claim without professional legal representation. It is important to remember that insurance company claims adjusters are professional negotiators and will either attempt to settle a claim for an insufficient amount, along with demanding a release for future medical expenses, or dragging the claim out in hopes of pressuring the injured plaintiff into a low settlement. Your car accident attorney is a professional negotiator also, and can recognize when bad faith insurance carriers are attempting to deny proper coverage for the injured plaintiff. Always retain an experienced auto accident and personal injury attorney who knows how to spot a bad faith insurance adjuster and represent your case aggressively.

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About the Author

Attorney James A. Abate practices Criminal Defense, DWI Defense, Business Litigation, Real Estate & Personal injury cases in Union County, New Jersey.