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Who Is Responsible In An Auto Accident?
In Michigan, the question of who is at fault for a vehicle accident generally depends on the behavior of the drivers involved. One driver may be totally at fault for the collision, or the negligence of multiple drivers may be a contributing factor.
However, each case will depend on the circumstances, and additional parties may be liable. Your motor vehicle accident claims for damages against the at fault parties may include another driver, owners, a vehicle manufacturer, a government entity, or others. An experienced auto accident lawyer can investigate the crash and determine all those who are liable.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm for a free consultation. Our auto accident lawyers serve clients throughout New Jersey and New York.
Liable Parties in an Auto Accident Claim
One of the most important steps you should take after any accident is to exchange information with the other parties or drivers. This can help you identify the potential at-fault parties in your accident.
Investigation into the circumstances of the accident may reveal that one or more of the following parties may be liable in your claim:
1. The At-Fault Driver Is Liable
Negligence behind the wheel can occur in many different ways. Some of the most common negligent conduct that result in automobile accidents include:
• Running red light
• Excess speed
• Rear end accident
• Failure to yield
• Ignoring stop signs and red lights
• Distracted driving
• Head-on collision
• Errors when turning or changing lanes
• Following another vehicle too closely
• Aggressive driving accident
• Drunk or impaired driving
• Side Swipe Accident
If your accident happened because another driver was engaging in one of the enumerated forms of dangerous conduct, you may have a fault-based claim. The driver’s insurance company will pay for the resulting damages if he or she causes an accident.
One complexity that may arise after auto accidents involves cases where the driver is not the owner of the car. Provided the at-fault driver had consent or permission to operate a vehicle belonging to somebody else (usually a friend, relative or family member), then the owner will also be liable under Michigan owner’s liability law. The owner’s insurance will also cover damages caused by the other driver’s negligence. If your damages or losses exceed the insurance coverage held by the owner, then the at-fault driver’s insurance will also be requested to pay the difference.
Read More: Can I sue the Car Owner for Another Driver’s Accident?
2. A Commercial Business Is Liable
Most vehicle accidents involve collisions between two or more private motor vehicles. However, if the driver was in the course and scop of working at the time of the accident, the liability can be more complicated because the employer can also be held responsible for your damages.
Common examples of commercial vehicle accidents include:
• Truck accidents
• Delivery van accidents
• Bus accidents
• Car accidents with construction vehicles in work zones
• Taxicab accidents
• Rideshare vehicle accidents
In collisions with large commercial vehicles, both the commercial driver and his or her employer may be held liable for your damages. Your commercial vehicle accident claim may involve the negligence on the part of the commercial driver such as sleepiness, fatigue, failure to inspect the vehicle, driving under the influence, etc. as well as on the part of the employer company including, negligent hiring, negligent retention, and failure to train/supervise, inadequate maintenance, etc.
Thorough our investigation we may find additional negligent parties. For example, it is not uncommon in truck accident claim to discover that a third-party shipping company improperly loaded the trailer – an error which can lead to tip over or roll-over accidents.
3. A Vehicle or Parts Manufacturer Is Liable
Both personal autos and commercial vehicles can suffer from part malfunctions that lead to crashes. Sometimes the improper maintenance or repair of a vehicle can be the cause of a part to fail such as brakes or steering, in which case the owner of the vehicle and/or a negligent mechanic or repair shop could be liable.
However, in cases where a faulty vehicle part arises from a manufacturing defect, multiple parties within the “chain of distribution” can be held responsible. Comprehensive investigation is crucial in product liability claims to determine (a) what is the defect, (b) how the defect caused the accident, and (c) which party or parties are responsible.
4. A Government Entity Is Liable
Dangerous and defective roads are among the most overlooked causes of auto accidents. However, negligence in the maintenance of roadways can increase the danger of single-vehicle collisions as well as accidents involving multiple vehicles.
Generally, in Michigan the government is responsible for keeping the surface of roads in reasonable repair for safe driving. If the responsible governmental entity such as city, township, or state for maintaining the road fails in this duty, you may have a claim against the local or state government for road bed defect.
Claims against government entities are subject to special rules, which are difference form any other accident case involving private individuals and companies. It is important to contact an auto accident lawyer to make sure you follow the required procedure and do not miss any deadlines for pursuing your governmental liability case.
5. An Establishment or Social Host Serving Alcohol Is Liable
Michigan has dram shop laws that allow personal injury victims to recover compensation from parties that serve alcohol to individuals who cause harm as a result of their visible intoxication. The dram shop laws allow accident victims to pursue third-party claims in the following circumstances:
• Bars, restaurants, liquor store and other businesses may be liable for unlawfully serving or selling an intoxicated individual or serving alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
• Social hosts are typically homeowners who throws a party or even has a “social gathering” in their home – furnishes alcohol to a minor or allows a minor to consume alcohol and that minor causes a car crash injuring the minor and others, then the social host may be held liable for knowingly or unlawfully serving alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
Dram shop claims are often tricky and complicated. Quick and thorough investigation is necessary to establish the negligence of a business establishment or social host, such as failing to recognize that a patron was visibly intoxicated (in cases where the driver was of legal drinking age) or failing to ask a customer for ID (in cases where the driver was underage).
How About the No-Fault Insurance Law?
You may also be wondering why questions of fault would be at issue in your accident case when Michigan is a no-fault state. Although most accident victims have some ability to recover compensation for certain losses through their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, there are two major reasons that fault (and, therefore, liability) may be at issue in your case.
First, if your injuries exceed the coverage limits for what is covered by PIP insurance, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver for your excess damages. If your lawyer can prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident, his or her insurance company will be liable for pain and suffering damages and excess financial losses such as medical bills and loss of income in your case.
Second, you may have additional claim options if you were injured in an accident caused by a party or parties other than an at-fault driver. In these claims, you will need to show evidence of fault to make a strong case for why one or more of the parties involved – and their insurance companies – may be liable.
Get Lawyers to Determine Who Is Liable in Your Auto Accident Case
Investigating an accident can be tricky and complicated. Even if you exchange information with the other driver, speak to witnesses, and give a statement to the police, it can be difficult to know all of your legal options for filing a claim, as well as who is liable for damages.
The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm can help. Our expert car accident lawyers treat each client with compassion as a unique individual and each case with special care. This approach enables us to fully understand your damages and identify all of the at-fault parties so we can pursue full and fair compensation on your behalf.
Please call 1-866-HIRE-JOE today for a free case review. Our auto accident attorneys serve clients in all of Michigan.
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The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, P.C. is located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and serves the entire State of Michigan. Past results are not a guarantee of future results, and the outcome of your particular case or matter cannot be predicted using a lawyer’s or law firm’s past results. Contacting us through our website does not create an attorney-client privilege. This website is attorney advertising.
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