Car accidents that cause serious injuries often end up devastating the victims physically, emotionally, and financially. The families bear the brunt too, as they see their loved ones suffering in pain and bear the loss of their income too. Things can get worse if the victim has a permanent disability or dies in the mishap. The only solace is that they can claim compensation for the injuries by filing a personal injury claim against the party at fault. The fate of the case, however, depends on the liability of the guilty driver. Simply speaking, the guilty party (or their insurance company) has to compensate the victim if they are proven liable for the accident. If you have been guilty in a car accident, here are some actions that can make you legally liable in injury claims.
Negligence that caused the injuries
It is very obvious that you will have to pay the injured party if the accident has happened due to your negligence when you were behind the wheel. Being negligent means that you behaved in a careless manner and has caused injury to another person. Negligence is very specific in personal injury cases, as you can be held liable only if you did something you should not have done. Such actions include speeding, driving under influence, or running a red light. On the other hand, you will also be considered negligent if you failed to do something that you should have done. This could include actions such as stopping for a pedestrian and turning on lights while driving at night. Typically, negligence includes the following elements to make you liable for the victim’s injuries:
- You violated the duty of care towards other drivers, passengers or pedestrians
- The action caused injuries to the victim
- The injuries resulted in damages or losses (in the form of medical expenses, lost wages, cost of pain and suffering, etc)
Fleeing the accident scene
Another serious form of liability you can face with a car accident claim is for a hit-and-run case. If you fail to stop after the mishap with the intention to steer clear of the trouble, you will probably end up facing prosecution. The victim will ensure hiring the best attorney to assist with a car accident injury and get them the compensation they deserve, by settlement or through a court trial. You will probably have to pay a hefty fine along with the compensation and even get a jail sentence if the other party files a criminal lawsuit. Another downside of leaving the scene is that the account of the mishaps will remain one-sided. The fact being mentioned in the police report will be deemed as incriminatory and harm you in the trial. The best thing to do is to park off on a side after the crash and get help for the victim. The right approach may actually work in your favor as the victim may ultimately take a soft stand in the case.
You lend your car to an incompetent or reckless driver
In an unfortunate scenario, you can be held liable for a mishap even when you had no direct involvement. Such cases happen when a vehicle owner lends the car to another driver, who may be incompetent or reckless while driving. The following are the circumstances when you may be considered responsible for the damages and injuries caused by the other driver.
- Underage and unlicensed driver
- Driving under influence
- An elderly driver who reacts slowly
- The person suffers from a condition such as a sleep disorder that makes them incompetent for handling a vehicle
In such situations, you can be held liable for negligent entrustment of the vehicle, which led to the mishap and injury of the victim. Giving your business vehicle to employees who are not capable of driving safely is also risky as it can land the business in trouble.
It is clear that liability in car accident claims is not as simple as it sounds. There are chances of being implicated even if you were not in the vehicle when the crash happened. So it makes sense to be aware and take timely action, whether you were directly involved or implicated. Remember that you will have to pay up if you are at fault- so an action like driving away from the spot or trying to conceal your identity would do more harm than good. It is better to rely on good legal representation to handle the case and close it at the earliest.