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Auto Accident 1.30.2022

Car Accident Types: Who is Liable?

Police authorities are responsible to create a police report after investigating the cause of a motor vehicle crash. Sometime, the police may be required to shut down the road or highway where the traffic accident occurred. However, accidents are not always easy to figure out who was at fault in the accident. Thankfully in life threatening accident, the investigating police agency must call the accident reconstruction team to determine how the accident happened.

 Determining liability in a car accident like or not is an important part of filing a claim for damages, as those damages—whether pursued through the insurance company’s claim process or through a personal injury lawsuit—will only be paid to you if you as the injured plaintiff can prove the insured was negligent. In some accident cases, the blame is clear, such as in most rear-end accidents. However, in other accident scenarios there may be more than one driver at fault.

 If you were injured in an auto accident, your car accident lawyer will help you investigate and identify who is at fault and all of their insurance resources that may be available for paying your injury claim. Here is an overview at some common car accident scenarios and the process for evaluating driver behavior that goes into determining who was at fault.

Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of traffic accidents people are involved in, which in years past accounted for 1.7 million crashes, around 1,700 deaths, and 500,000 injuries every year, according to the Washington Post report. Rear end type accident occurs when one car collides into the back of another car on front of it. The vast majority of these crashes happen due to the driver of the following car following too closely,  and/or failing to pay attention to the roadway ahead of him or her, or excessive speed in bad weather.

Common sense would dictate that the person in the following car is always responsible for the rear-end collision, as traffic laws of most states, including Michigan requires that the drivers must leave enough space between their cars and cars in front of them at all times to come to a safe stop. Although this is generally true, there are some limited circumstances where both drivers could share responsibility or even a third party. Spotting the following common scenarios is important:

  • You’re slowing down on the road preparing to turn when you’re rear-ended by another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle states that she had no idea you were turning because your turn signal and brake light weren’t working. During the police investigation, it is determined that your turn signal and brake lights malfunctioned. While you may have some liability for operating your vehicle without a working turn signal and brake light, if it is discovered that the turn signal and brake light assembly has an electrical defective, the manufacturer could also share liability.
  • You’re driving through traffic, you become distracted by a text message. At the same time, a vehicle from a driveway pulls out in front of you. You fail to react in time to avoid rear-ending that vehicle. You and the other driver may share liability in this scenario. While you were negligent in driving while distracted, the other driver who pulled out in oncoming traffic was also negligent in failing to yield the right-of-way.

Left-Turn Accident

Left-turn accidents occur when one vehicle is going straight through the intersection while another car is making a left turn and collides with the front of the straight-moving vehicle. Like rear-end accidents, liability is generally easy to determine in left turn accidents. Left-turning vehicles have a lower priority in this scenario, in which the driver of a vehicle is required to give way to vehicles approaching, meaning that—unless there is a green arrow or oncoming traffic is clear —they must yield to those moving straight through the intersection. A study from the National Highway Traffic Administration discovered that the left-turning driver most often committed a critical error, such as “turning with an obstructed view,” “misjudged gap or speed,” “inadequate surveillance,” or “false assumption of the other driver’s intentions.” These are all driver errors that place liability for an accident on the hands of the left-turning driver. Is there ever any accident scenario where the other driver is at fault, though?

Sure, Yes. While rare, the driver of the straight-moving car may lose the right of way speeding at an intersection under Michigan law. In this accident scenario, in which the driver of the vehicle going straight was traveling at a speed in excess of the posted speed limit, making it impossible for the turning driver perhaps to either see car in time or to calculate how much time the turning car has to complete the turn. Here is another example:

  • You’re the driver of the vehicle turning left on a green arrow when another vehicle is going straight through the intersection and an accident suddenly occurs. The accident is the fault of the straight traveling driver, since you had the green arrow which gave you the right-of-way. The light was red for the straight driving vehicle.

Head-On Collision

Historically, one of the deadliest types of accidents is a head-on collision. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, head-on collisions in 2017 accounted for 56 percent of the passenger vehicle deaths from traffic accidents. These accidents, often known as frontal-impact collisions, occur when two vehicles traveling in opposite directions collide head-on.

Causes of head-on accidents include a drunk driver, driver going wrong-way on one way road, driver crosses over into oncoming traffic lane, or even those driver’s that have been involved in a crash which causes the vehicle to roll over or be deflected into the oncoming traffic lanes. Fault for a head-on collision generally resides with the individual whose vehicle has departed from the lane or has entered wrong-way traffic. However, there may be additional liable parties in situation where the vehicle forced out of the lane due to another prior car accident.

Some common scenarios involving head-on collisions include:

  • A distracted driver rear-ends your vehicle, and the force of the collision causes your vehicle to cross the median into oncoming traffic where you are then hit by another car head-on. In this scenario, the liability then is assigned to the driver who caused the initial rear-end accident.
  • You became confused when exiting off the I-696 freeway and accidentally somehow ended up going the wrong way against traffic in the lane for those who are merging onto the I-696 freeway. In this accident scenario, the accident would be your fault, since you were driving in the wrong direction.

Side-Impact Collisions

Also known as T-bone accidents, a side-impact collision or angle collision occurs when the front of one vehicle crashes into the side of the other at a roughly 90-degree angle. Injuries to occupants on the side of the vehicle that got hit are often quite severe, as there are no adequate structural barriers protecting the occupant, such as the steel body frame, to protect the individual from the brunt of the crash. This type of collision almost always occurs in an intersection accident and is generally caused by negligence on the part of one of the drivers, including running a red light, disobeying a stop sign, failure to yield the right-of-way, drunk driving, or distracted driving. Some common examples of liability in a side-impact collision include:

  • A drunk driver runs a red light and T-bones your vehicle in the intersection. The liability will fall on the drunk driver, who ran the red light causing the accident. If the drunk driver had been drinking at a business establishment, such as a bar, there may be dramshop liability against the establishment if its employees continued to serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated drunk person. In circumstances where someone injured another due to drunk driving the victims should really discuss the situation with an attorney that specializes in drunk driving because special Michigan law applies.
  • You are waiting for an important call that arrives just as you’re approaching an intersection that is a 4-way stop with stop signs. While you were the distracted by answering your cell phone, you disobeyed the stop sign and crashed into the side of a vehicle in the intersection that had the right-of-way. You would be at fault.

Sideswipe Accident

  A sideswipe accident is one collision where two vehicles that are going in the same direction make contact with the side portion of each other’s vehicle while going in the same direction. This type of accident is particularly dangerous on the M-10 freeway, where vehicles travel at faster speeds and there is a chance that each driver didn’t realize what the other was doing. Liability for damages caused in a sideswipe accident will depend on who left the lane first or who had the right-of-way in the lane of travel. The behavior of each driver leading up to the crash will be assessed accordingly, using driver statements, eye witness states, debris, and vehicle damage to determine fault. Some common scenarios involving sideswipe accidents and liability include:

  • While traveling on the Lodge (US 10) freeway, you realize your exit is fast approaching and you must change lanes quickly to make it over in time. You fail to check your blind spot when changing lanes heading for the exit and you hit a vehicle  that is already traveling in the lane you entered. In this case, you are liable because you failed to check your blind spot before changing lanes.
  • You’re driving in a rainstorm and notice in your mirror that a vehicle is approaching in the lane next to yours at a high rate of speed. Just as the vehicle is passing alongside you, it hydroplanes on a surface water, causing the driver to lose control and his vehicle sideswipes yours. In this accident scenario, the other driver is liable for the accident since he was driving too fast for road conditions and for losing control.
  • While driving on the three lane portion of the I-75 freeway, you have your turn signal on to change lanes from the far right-hand lane of the freeway to the center lane and you wait for a car traveling in the center lane to pass. As soon as the car passes, you begin changing lanes, only to collide with a vehicle that was in the far left-hand lane also changing to the center lane at the same time. In this accident scenario, fault is unclear, since neither driver appears to have anticipated that the other driver would be changing lanes at the same time. However, in this accident scenario both drivers would be technically at fault, as basic traffic rules dictate that you can only change lanes when you check your blind spot, and you are sure it is clear and safe to do so.

Single-Vehicle Accident

Single-vehicle accidents are those in which only one vehicle sustains damage, even if other vehicles are involved. Historically, a high percentage of passenger vehicle deaths in traffic accidents occur in single-vehicle crashes.

While in most cases, it is presumed that the driver of the single-vehicle accident crash is at fault, this isn’t always true. There are many ways in which a single vehicle accident can be caused by the actions or negligence of others. Here are some common single vehicle accident scenarios along with potential driver liability:

  • You’re driving down the road when someone suddenly pulls out in front of you. To avoid a collision, you veer to the side and crash into a utility pole instead. The other driver is liable for your accident, as he or she failed to yield the right of way by pulling out in front of you.
  • While driving on the I-96 freeway, your brakes suddenly went out in your car. To avoid having an accident with someone another motorist, you swerve off the road and go into a ravine. If your brakes were defective, liability for your accident may rest with the brake mechanic or manufacturer of the brakes. If you recently had brake work done on your car, the liability could be assigned to the brake shop where you had the work done.

As you can see, there are many ways that a driver or business entity can be held liable after an accident. An experienced car accident attorney will help you to investigate and identify all potentially liable parties, which will provide you with the best chance to recover damages in accidents caused by the negligence of others. In Michigan, proving negligence is key to a successful outcome for your personal injury claim. To establish the element of negligence, you must prove the following:

  • at-fault driver owed you a legal duty of care. This legal duty is often as simple showing the at fault driver broke a traffic law or civil infraction.
  • at-fault driver breached this legal duty, and the breach of the legal duty resulted in an accident.
  • The accident proximately caused your damages, including pain and suffering, medical bills, or damage to your car.

Looking For A Car Accident Attorney?  

By contacting an experienced car accident lawyer they can help you understand your legal options, including whether you are eligible to file a lawsuit. Call the Joseph Dedvukaj Firm today for a free consultation 1-866-HIRE-JOE.

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The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, P.C represents Michigan clients in a full range of personal injury matters. If you have been injured, contact us for a free consultation.
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