In Alabama, fault plays an important role in an injury claim. Because we live in a tort or fault-based state, victims typically file claims with the at-fault driver’s liability insurer. However, how do you identify exactly who caused a crash?
In this article, Petro Law Firm explains how determining fault by location of damage can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Fault: A Key Concept in Alabama Injury Law
In an injury claim, fault or negligence is more than finger-pointing. Instead, it’s a legal concept with specific requirements. Someone is negligent if:
- They owed you a duty, such as a duty to maintain a proper lookout while driving
- They violated this duty and caused a car crash
- You suffered injuries due to their conduct
If you can prove these three elements, you should receive compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Determining Fault by Location of Damage
Sometimes, identifying the at-fault driver is easy. But, it’s more common that the negligent driver denies any responsibility and tries to blame you—the victim—for the accident. In these cases, the authorities and your injury lawyer will conduct an investigation that helps pinpoint the exact causes of the crash.
Many times, the location of the impact can identify who was to blame.
The Other Driver Rear Ends Your Vehicle
Compared to many crashes, rear-end collisions are usually easy to identify the at-fault party. In Alabama (and throughout the United States), drivers have a duty to maintain a reasonable stopping distance. In a rear-end crash, the car that slammed into you is typically to blame. However, things can get complicated if the rear-end collision was part of a multi-car pileup. Then, the other driver’s insurance company may argue that you contributed to the crash too.
T-Bone and Sideswipe Accidents
A t-bone accident occurs when someone fails to yield at an intersection and strikes the side of another car or truck. A sideswipe typically involves an improper lane change—the two vehicles graze each other rather than making a direct impact.
In these accidents, it’s not easy to determine who is to blame. You cannot assume that simply because one vehicle has front end damage, that they are at fault. Instead, your lawyer and the authorities will consider many factors, including who had the right of way.
For example, suppose you arrive at a four-way stop. It’s your turn to go, but another driver suddenly speeds into the intersection. While you do your best to stop, you crash into the side of their truck. In this case, the other driver is probably to blame, since they ignored Alabama’s rules of the road.
Head-on collisions typically involve life-threatening injuries. However, the location of the damage can’t identify who was to blame—since both cars have the same type of impact. Instead, the authorities and your injury lawyer will consider other factors in the crash, such as whether one driver was driving in the wrong direction down the road or lost control of their vehicle.
While most people tend to blame the driver who rolled over, the facts aren’t always so cut and dry. While speed is often a factor in a roll-over crash, your injury lawyer will also determine whether the driver was a victim of a dangerous or defective vehicle or auto part.
Defective and poorly maintained tires can cause rollover crashes—and you may have product liability or negligent maintenance claims in addition to those against the driver.
Crash Reconstruction Experts Can Help Identify Who Is At Fault
In more complex crashes, you can’t rely on the location of a vehicle’s damage to determine fault. Instead, your lawyer will consider numerous facts and data points to place blame. Sometimes, this requires consulting with engineers, accident reconstruction experts, and other technicians.
Based on photographs, tire marks, and an inspection of the vehicles, these experts can sometimes rebuild the events that contributed to the crash. They may also identify other factors, such as defective parts and vehicles, that lead to additional legal claims.
Just as importantly, these experts and their reports can provide invaluable insight to the judge and jury, helping you get the compensation you deserve. At Petro Law Firm, we regularly work with respected experts, including accident reconstruction engineers. To learn more about our approach, reach out to our office.
Do You Need Help Determining Fault by Location of Damage? Contact Petro Law Firm
Petro Law Firm has built a reputation for its careful crash investigations and exceptional advocacy. If you or a loved one were injured in an Alabama car crash, we can help you understand your claims. To request your free consultation, call our office today.