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The concept of fault in car accident claims

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2020 | Firm News, Personal Injury |

When auto accidents arise in Hardin County, one of the first things that must be done is the determination of fault. This relies mostly on motor vehicle statutes rather than on the common law notion of fault: In other words, drivers can have their negligence determined simply by citing the motor vehicle statute that they violated.

This is important when neither party in an accident is entirely at fault. For example, one driver may have been negligent because he or she was speeding, but the other driver may have contributed by failing to wear a seatbelt.

The concept of proximate cause also plays a role when proving fault through the violation of a motor vehicle statute. Plaintiffs pursuing a personal injury case could show that if it were not for the defendant violating the statute, the crash could have been prevented. Yet if the plaintiff’s failure to wear a seatbelt could be linked to, say, a brain injury, then the defendant cannot be held liable for that injury.

This is very different from proving fault according to the fourfold distinction that common law makes. There are four levels of fault in common law: negligence, recklessness, intentional misconduct and strict liability. Recklessness is a willful disregard for others’ safety, and actions like drunk driving can fall under this or intentional misconduct.

A lot more can be said about these distinctions, but victims who intend to file a personal injury claim may want an attorney to help them understand how it all applies to their situation. There are restrictions on who can file a third-party insurance claim since Kentucky is a no-fault state, so the attorney may look more closely into victims’ options. Victims may leave all negotiations for a settlement to their lawyer and litigate if a fair amount cannot be achieved.