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Understanding Liability in a Car Accident: Who is at Fault?

Millions of car accidents happen in the U.S. every year, often producing severe injuries or fatalities and significant property damage. Suppose you or a family member suffered injuries in a car accident caused by negligence. In that case, you might qualify to seek compensation through a car accident liability claim or personal injury lawsuit.

To hold the responsible party accountable, many people hire a car accident lawyer to handle their car accident claims. 1-800-Ask-Gary can help you find an experienced car accident attorney in your area.

Why Do You Need To Determine Fault in an Auto Accident?

In a car accident, the at-fault party and their insurance company have a financial responsibility to compensate others for their damages. More than one party can share blame for causing an accident; the percentage of fault assigned to each affects the compensation each party is responsible for and how much they can receive.

Every state has minimum liability insurance coverage amounts that every licensed driver is responsible for obtaining. Some states also require drivers to have personal injury protection insurance that pays certain damages regardless of who is at fault. These PIP insurance policy benefits typically don’t cover all the expenses injured accident victims face.

Car accident injuries often require extensive medical treatment and a prolonged time away from work. You may need to file a personal injury claim to obtain fair compensation for your damages, whether your motor vehicle accident occurred in a no-fault state or an at-fault state.

Call 1-800-Ask-Gary to find personal injury lawyers in your area who understand your state’s laws governing car accidents and have experience handling cases similar to yours.

What Role Do Insurance Companies Play?

No insurance company wants to pay more than they must in car accident liability claims, even though they have a legal liability to pay when their policyholder is an at-fault driver or another legally responsible party. Insurance company representatives may say that another party bears liability.

One of the most vital tasks your personal injury attorney performs is ensuring that insurance companies don’t assign fault unfairly.

Depending on state laws and other factors, liable insurance companies may compensate an injured person for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Vehicle damage
  • Replacement expenses
  • Pain and suffering

Those who sustain serious injuries may qualify to seek compensation for future medical expenses and lost wages. When you speak to the attorney 1-800-Ask-Gary connects you with, ask how much your case is worth.

Aren’t Drivers At-Fault?

Although the drivers involved are the ones at fault in many car accident cases, there is a potential for other parties to bear liability. These can include:

  • Vehicle owner: In accidents involving passenger automobiles, the driver is usually the car’s owner. In some cases, such as those involving commercial vehicles, drivers aren’t the vehicle owners.
  • Vehicle manufacturer: Manufacturing defects can cause car accidents. You may have a valid product liability claim.
  • Employers: Employers may be liable for their employees’ actions under vicarious liability statutes.
  • Those responsible for vehicle maintenance: Particularly with commercial vehicles, owners often hire others to maintain them. If these people or companies fail to maintain the vehicles properly, they can share fault for an accident.
  • A government entity: Various government agencies provide public transportation, have employees who drive government-owned vehicles, and are responsible for maintaining roads and traffic signals and lights.
  • Establishments that serve alcohol: When establishments serve alcoholic beverages to an underage or impaired driver, they can be held responsible under dram shop liability laws.
  • Cargo owners, shippers, or loaders: Improperly loaded or secured cargo can shift during transit and cause motor vehicle accidents. This scenario is common in an accident involving tractor-trailers.

Proving fault in car accident liability claims is often challenging. Many times, an investigation is necessary to determine how the accident happened. 1-800-Ask-Gary can connect you with a car accident lawyer to assist you.

Are There Things You Should and Shouldn’t Do After a Car Accident?

Your medical condition should be your first concern. However, what you do following a motor vehicle collision can help or damage your claim.


If your injuries allow, you should:


Making some common mistakes can damage your medical condition and your claim:

  • Don’t admit fault.
  • Don’t discontinue recommended medical treatment.
  • Don’t speak to insurance company representatives or sign paperwork without your lawyer’s involvement.
  • Don’t make social media posts.
  • Don’t think you have to accept an insurance company’s first settlement offer.

How Can an Attorney Help?

When you hire an attorney from a law firm that handles car accident claims, they typically perform many necessary tasks for you. These often include:

  • Providing legal options and advice
  • Conducting an investigation into the cause of your accident
  • Determining who is at fault for your accident
  • Serving as your personal representative with insurance carrier representatives
  • Taking care of the paperwork
  • Negotiating with liable car insurance companies to obtain a favorable settlement
  • Taking your case to trial if necessary

Many car accident liability claims settle without going to court.

Where Do Attorneys Search for Evidence in a Car Accident Case?

Most auto accidents happen because of at least one party’s negligence. To build a solid case, your lawyer will look for evidence to prove that negligence, which can include:

  • The police report
  • Witness statements
  • Photos of the accident scene
  • Cell phone records
  • Vehicle maintenance records
  • Medical reports

The facts uncovered in your accident investigation may also lead to other sources of evidence. Call 1800 Ask Gary to find a lawyer close to you.

What if You’re Partially At Fault?

Each state governs who can seek damages in a car accident claim using various methods:

  • Pure comparative negligence
  • Modified comparative fault
  • Contributory negligence
  • Slight/gross negligence

Most auto accident cases have more than one person or party sharing fault for causing the accident. Depending on your state’s laws and your assigned percentage of fault, you can still seek compensation for damages even if you’re partially to blame.

However, your percentage reduces the total compensation you may receive by that same amount. Say that you’re 25% at fault for your accident. If total damages are $100,000, the most you can obtain is $75,000. $100,000 – 25% = $75,000.

Why Should You Hire a Local Attorney?

1-800-Ask-Gary will connect you with a lawyer in your state. Local attorneys know which laws apply and how to handle accident cases successfully.

It’s also beneficial to choose a lawyer who handles car accident cases. An estate attorney, for example, could technically represent you. However, they probably don’t have the knowledge and experience needed for car accident cases.

How Can 1-800-Ask-Gary Help?

Most people are ill-equipped to handle car accident claims without assistance. These cases can have many complications, and you may make costly mistakes if you don’t have competent legal representation.

1-800-Ask-Gary is a free and easy-to-use helpline that connects injured accident victims with qualified legal and medical professionals. You can call 1-800-275-4279 or submit a contact request 24/7. Don’t waste valuable time searching for an attorney on your own. Instead, call 1-800-Ask-Gary.