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Auto Accidents: Who is At Fault?

Tennessee Injury Lawyers
Fault

As with other types of accidents, figuring out who is at fault in a traffic accident is a matter of deciding who was careless and the cause of the accident. In many cases, your instincts will tell you that a driver, cyclist or pedestrian acted recklessly, but not what rule or rules that person violated. Fault issues can be tricky, and a skilled attorney will look to a number of sources, such as police reports, state traffic laws, and witnesses, to help you determine who was at fault for your accident. Courts look to a number of factors in determining whether a driver was at fault. Some of these factors include, but are not restricted to, the following:

• disobeying traffic signs or signals;
• failing to signal while turning;
• driving above or below the posted speed limit;
• disregarding weather or traffic conditions;
• failing to drive on the right side of the road; and
• driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Causes of Automobile Accidents

A driver may also be held accountable for an accident due to his or her reckless behavior. A driver who is careless is one who drives unsafely, with “willful and wanton disregard” for the probability that such driving may cause an accident. A driver could be found negligent, for example, if he or she drives in an aggressive or harassing manner out of “road rage” and causes an accident.

Statistics compiled in 1997 by NHTSA and the American Automobile Association showed that almost 13,000 people had been wounded or killed since 1990 in crashes caused by aggressive driving. According to a NHTSA survey, more than 60 percent of drivers consider unsafe driving by others, including speeding, a serious personal threat to themselves and their families. About 30 percent of respondents said they felt their safety was threatened in the last month, while 67 percent felt this pressure during the last year.

Traffic safety and law enforcement organizations are renewing efforts to identify and penalize menacing drivers-those who speed, tailgate, zip from lane to lane, flash headlights in frustration, and take part in other dangerous driving practices. The NHTSA defines threatening driving as a progression of unlawful driving actions such as:

speeding-exceeding the posted limit or driving too fast for conditions;
improper or excessive lane changing;
failing to signal intent;
failing to see that movement can be made safely; or
improper passing-failing to signal intent, using an emergency lane to pass, or passing on the shoulder.
Accidents that are Not Caused by the Drivers Involved

In certain cases, collisions are caused by factors unrelated to the behavior of any particular driver. For example, an automobile accident may occur due to a defect in someone’s car. In such a case, an automobile manufacturer or supplier may be held accountable for injuries caused by a defect in the automobile under the law of product liability. A product liability suit is a lawsuit brought against the seller of a product for selling a defective product that caused physical harm to a consumer or user. If a manufacturer of a product creates a defective product-either in designing, manufacturing, or labeling the product-the manufacturer is responsible for any injuries the product causes, regardless of whether the manufacturer was negligent.

Another example of a situation where a driver may not be at fault for an accident is where a mechanic fails to properly fix a vehicle, and the failure causes a collision. In such a case, the person who improperly repaired the car, and his employer, may be responsible for the injuries sustained under the theory of negligence.

Other factors, such as poorly kept roads and malfunctioning traffic control signals can contribute to cause an accident as well. Improper design, maintenance, construction, signage, lighting or other highway defects, including poorly placed trees and utility poles, can also cause major accidents. In circumstances such as this, government entities may be potential defendants. Special rules apply to claims and lawsuits brought against governmental bodies, however. Good legal guidance is critical to preserving and winning such claims.

Conclusion

In all of the above cases, it is essential that accident victims take prompt measures to collect evidence, investigate the accident in question, and have physicians or other expert witnesses thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you have been a victim of a car accident, do not hesitate to call upon personal injury attorneys who are knowledgeable and experienced in auto accident cases to assess your situation and determine the best way for you to obtain any compensation available for the damages you suffered.

If you have been injured in an auto accident, please contact our attorneys today. We offer free initial consultations and work on a contingent fee basis, which means that there is never a fee unless we successfully settle your case.

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