Who Is at Fault for These Common Car Accident Scenarios?

Texas Auto Accident AttorneysAfter a car accident, you may need to identify the responsible party to file a personal injury claim. In many scenarios, the police report from the scene of the accident clearly indicates the responsible party and, therefore, who you need to contact to pursue compensation. In other cases, however, more than one party may share responsibility for a car accident—and not just when two drivers both make errors that lead to an accident. Consider some of these common car accident scenarios and who may bear fault for the accident.

Scenario #1: A Drunk Driving Accident

A drunk driver tears through an intersection and strikes your vehicle, leaving you with substantial injuries. Your attorney discovers that, just before the accident, the driver left a bar just down the street from the accident, where the bar continued to serve that driver drinks long past the point of obvious inebriation.

Who Bears Responsibility?

  • The driver. Ultimately, the drunk driver bears responsibility for his decision to get behind the wheel while inebriated. His insurance company will need to make payment for repairs to your vehicle and for treatment of your injuries.
  • The bar. Both bars and restaurants owe a duty of care to their patrons and to others who must share the road with those patrons. If a bar or restaurant fails to cut off an individual the server knows will drive upon leaving the restaurant, the establishment may share liability for the accident.

Scenario #2: A Burst Tire Accident

As you drive down the road, another driver crashes into you. The driver’s tire blew out, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The driver could not stop the vehicle in time to prevent the collision.

Who Bears Responsibility?

  • The driver. In some scenarios, the driver or vehicle owner may bear liability for a tire blowout. The owner bears responsibility for maintaining the vehicle properly, including replacing tires when needed. The driver also bears responsibility for some of the common scenarios that could cause a tire blowout, including overloading the vehicle, bouncing over too many potholes, or hitting an obstacle in the road.
  • The tire manufacturer. When a new tire blows out in spite of the driver doing nothing wrong, the tire manufacturer may bear or share liability for the accident. Most tires clearly display the number of miles they can safely travel. If the tires fail to hold up their end of the bargain, the tire manufacturer may share liability for accidents caused by faulty tires.
  • The person who installed the tires. If someone installed the tires incorrectly, or put tires on a vehicle in spite of recognizing signs of improper construction that could cause an accident, that party may share liability for a burst tire accident.

Scenario #3: An Accident with a Commercial Truck Driver

You follow the rules of the road carefully while sharing the road with a big truck, including trying to stay out of its blind spots. Unfortunately, a truck driver fails to notice your vehicle and moves into your lane, causing a sideswipe collision. You later learn that the truck driver had driven for more than 12 hours during a shift that had lasted for more than 16 hours and took cold medicine shortly before the collision.

Who Bears Responsibility?

  • The truck driver. The truck driver must decide for himself whether he can safely navigate the roads in his current condition. The truck driver ultimately bears responsibility for all decisions made behind the wheel, in spite of unrealistic requirements or dangerous conditions.
  • The trucking company. Truck drivers can only drive for 11 hours out of each 14-hour shift, after which the truck driver must get out from behind the wheel for at least 10 hours before taking another on-duty shift. If the trucking company expects the driver to exceed those hours, the company may share liability for an accident caused by that driver. The trucking company may also share liability if the driver called in to let the company know that he felt unable to drive after taking cold medicine, but the company pushed him to drive anyway.

Scenario #4: An Accident With an Uber or Lyft Driver

Rideshare vehicles have become increasingly common, especially in many major cities. One day, while checking his GPS before picking up another ride, an Uber driver mistakenly drives straight through a red light, t-boning your car.

Who Bears Responsibility?

  • The driver. In an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, the driver usually bears responsibility for the accident. Uber and Lyft both offer insurance policies that cover their drivers while on the clock with an active fare. While driving to pick up a ride, the Uber or Lyft driver may receive coverage from his personal auto insurance policy or may use the Uber or Lyft policy to cover damages. Uber and Lyft do not share responsibility for accidents caused by their drivers unless they continue to employ drivers with a long accident history or a history of driving while intoxicated or committing other traffic violations.

Scenario #5: An Accident With a Driver Working for a Delivery Company

In the middle of a storm, with roads slick with ice and blowing water, a teenage pizza delivery driver loses control of her vehicle and slams into yourcar. She tried to call out, saying she felt unsafe about driving in the storm, but the company told her if she called out, she would lose her job.

Who Bears Responsibility?

  • The driver. In spite of knowing about bad weather conditions, the delivery driver chose to get behind the wheel anyway. She bears liability for an accident caused by her actions.
  • The pizza company. The pizza company, in spite of knowing about the dangerous conditions, chose to remain open and to pressure an inexperienced delivery driver into staying on the road. The pizza company, therefore, shares liability for the accident.

Contact an Attorney for More Information

Determining liability in a car accident can require a deep understanding of the scenario, and the above are only examples; the facts of any individual situation could change the outcomes of a legal action. That’s why it’s a great idea to contact an attorney as soon after your accident as possible: to get a better understanding of how the circumstances that caused your accident may determine who bears responsibility for the accident, and what steps you need to take to seek compensation.

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