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Car Accidents: Who is at Fault?

One of the first considerations taken into account when an attorney is evaluating a car accident case for a potential claim is determining which driver was at fault for the accident. In some cases, there is clear evidence as to which driver was at fault in causing the crash. One popular example is an accident where one car rear ended another. These circumstances generally present a strong case that the driver who collided with the vehicle in front of them caused the accident by failing to maintain a safe driving distance between themselves and the car ahead of them.

In many other cases, fault is not so clearly established. However, it is imperative to do so clearly in car accident cases in order to determine if the injured party has a claim, and whether or not the other driver is responsible for damages caused in the accident. Especially in cases where both drivers may share fault of an accident, the proportion of fault assigned to each may determine how much, if any, damages may be awarded.

Comparative Fault

In some car accident cases, both drivers may have had some part in causing the crash. If the circumstances are such that it is unclear which driver is at fault, or if both drivers played a part in causing the accident, any corresponding personal injury claim will involve assigning a portion of fault to each responsible party. According to West Virginia law, the legal concept of comparative negligence, or comparative fault, is used in cases such as these. The relevant law states that a person cannot recover damages if they are found more than 50 percent at fault in an accident. Any person who is determined at least 50 percent at fault will succeed in filing a claim against the other party, since they at least equally caused the accident. Only those who are less than 50 percent responsible for the crash are entitled to compensation for any injuries or property damage sustained.

The area of determining fault is one where an experienced car accident attorney can evaluate the facts surrounding the case in order to determine whether an individual has a claim, as well as the likely success of the claim. An accident attorney can assess the situation based on the facts of a particular case, and advocate on behalf of their client for the lowest percentage of fault to be attracted to their client. If the parties are not able to reach an agreement regarding fault, the issue would likely go to court before a judge or a jury, who would then make a fault determination.

Personal Injury Attorney

The team of attorneys at Hendrickson & Long PLLC represent clients in numerous personal injury matters, including car accident cases. Please feel free to contact us today to schedule a consultation in order to evaluate your case for a potential claim. Our office is located in Charleston, West Virginia.