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Determining Fault in a Car, Truck, Motorcycle or Bicycle Accident

1 Aug 2017

Victims of car, bicycle, and truck accidents can claim compensation if another party carries responsibility for the incident. When you contact an personal injury law firm to handle your lawsuit, one of the elements an attorney will look at is fault before approaching an insurance company to award a collision victim. Establishing and proving fault requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant, through action or inaction, was negligent and directly responsible for the accident. Determining fault will also allow you to know if you have grounds to file a personal injury suit.

Note that the compensation a victim receives from his/her insurance company is separate from a personal injury claim. New York operates under no-fault coverage laws meaning that regardless of whose fault it is in a vehicle collision, your insurance is supposed to pay for the related medical expenses. However, some exceptions apply to the no-fault rule, so the expertise of an accident lawyer is invaluable. Different adjusters are responsible for handling these two types of claims. When filing a suit for personal injury or property damage, proving fault involves various aspects.

Elements of Negligence

Whether the crash involves a truck, motorcycle, or car, an personal injury lawyer has to follow certain procedures when establishing fault. Negligence refers to the failure of a motorist, through actions or inactions, to adhere to a duty of care that any prudent individual would in similar circumstances. The elements that the plaintiff must prove when establishing negligence are;

• The accused individual or entity owed a duty of care to the victim
• He or she breached this duty
• The breach was directly or indirectly responsible, for the accident
• The accident led to the bodily injuries
• The claimant experienced damages that are recognized legally

When investigating the facts of a vehicle accident, an attorney has to factor in all these elements because they determine the weight of a particular case.

Vehicle accidents can be a result of a variety of other aspects besides the negligence of another motorist. For instance, a bike or truck with defective components can lead to a serious crash. Highways and streets with poor lighting or unfavorable driving conditions are other reasons a motorist gets into an accident. In such instances, the claimant would have to make a case against the entity involved, which could be a big company or even the government. Such lawsuits have more complex features hence the need for an experienced New York personal injury attorney.

Determining Fault

Various factors will play into the process of proving that a third party holds liability in a vehicle collision. The statements provided at the scene by the people involved in an accident carry a lot of weight when establishing fault. For this reason, be careful about volunteering information, which assigns blame. Admissions at the scene usually go into the police reports and therefore are admissible in court. The officers can also testify if you admitted fault of the accident.

Another avenue that attorneys use to determine negligence is the police crash report. After concluding the investigation, the officers who responded to the accident will offer their observations on what transpired. A New York law firm can also allocate resources to investigate the facts, especially when some inconsistencies arise in the report. Eyewitness testimonies are essentials well when trying to figure out who carries the blame in a vehicle crash. Additionally, camera footage is a rich source of information when investigating fault.

Comparative Negligence

Fault is handled differently in various states, and New York uses the comparative fault rule when awarding compensation. What happens with comparative fault is that when two parties are both responsible to a certain measure for the accident, the courts reward settlement depending on this percentage. It means that the claimant receives an amount that is less the amount his/her degree. For example, if your percentage of blame is 20 percent and the insurance company in order to pay $30,000, the total compensation will be (30,000-20%) $24,000. Your level of negligence in a bike, truck, or car accident will become clear during the investigation to determine fault.

Establishing fault in a vehicle crash is the foundation of any personal injury claim. If an insurance company is going to agree to a settlement, the claimant must prove that the other party failed in his/her duty of care, which resulted in bodily harm and personal injury attorneys can help with the process.

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