Liability in Car Accidents
Oftentimes, following a severe traffic collision, the victims are in such bad shape that thinking about anything other than getting better takes more effort than a person can muster. As Baltimore personal injury lawyers, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, understand that victims usually cannot easily pursue monetary recovery for their medical costs and lost wages in the same way that a knowledgeable third party can; having an advocate on one’s side when going up against a large corporate entity such as an auto insurance carrier is often essential.
One of the things that most people who have been injured in a car, truck or motorcycle accident fail to consider is the question of liability as it applies to the crash that put them in the hospital in the first place. While understanding the reasons for the accident is critical, it is the job of a skilled automobile accident attorney to help the victim’s cause by determining which party was liable for the injury accident.
Simply stated, the term “liability” refers to “Who caused the accident?” In legal circles, liability is known as the legally bound obligation to pay debts; which is the case when a person is financially and legally responsible for something. This can include situations involving either civil or criminal law. Legal liability can be found in a variety of legal areas, from contract and tort judgments or settlements, to taxes or fines levied by government entities.
Under the definition of “strict” liability, which also may pertain to either civil or criminal law, a person is liable when he or she is legally responsible for damage or loss caused by his or her actions or omissions, regardless of culpability. Strict liability is frequently involved in tort law and especially prominent in regard to products liability cases.
Under instances of strict liability, while the plaintiff need not prove fault, the defendant can argue absence of fault, which can occur frequently in cases of products liability. In such instances, the defense may argue that a defect resulted from the plaintiff's actions, as opposed to any specific problem with or fault of the product.
In the case of a typical car accident, however, liability usually resides with one of the motorists, or another negligent party involved in the accident. An automobile accident claim is technically a “negligence” claim; negligence meaning, in this type of case, carelessness. As Maryland auto and commercial trucking accident lawyers, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen prepare their clients’ cases to show that other driver’s careless actions resulted in the collision, which then caused bodily injury or death.
Some of the typical actions that indicate negligence on the part of another motorist may include the following:
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
- Failing to pay attention to surrounding traffic
- Executing an illegal or prohibited turn
- Following another vehicle too closely
- Running a red traffic signal or ignoring a stop sign
- Making an unsafe lane change
- Operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
In some roadway collisions, such as rear-end collisions, liability is presumed when a motorist collides with a stopped car, truck or motorcycle from behind. It must be noted, however, that not every rear-end collision is automatically blamed on the driver who runs into the back of another stopped vehicle. This is why the personal injury lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen recommend that anyone involved in a serious accident consult with a qualified legal expert to learn what his or her rights are under Maryland law.
Of course, no matter what the circumstances of a road accident, motorists should endeavor to pin down all the relevant details following a traffic wreck. Getting names of witnesses and collecting any other evidence for yourself is advisable. Of primary concern, if one has been injured in a car or trucking-related crash, is to get medical treatment as quickly as possible. Of secondary importance is to write down any and all of the details and facts of the case.
Drawing a diagram of the accident scene as well as taking photos of the crash site will help your attorney in establishing the potential for liability. Having the names and contact information, as well as statements from any witnesses to the accident, can also be beneficial when preparing a personal injury lawsuit. As experienced trial lawyers, Lebowitz & Mzhen are skilled at collecting the necessary facts and evidence to prove liability on the part of the other driver.
It is important to remember that the “at-fault” motorist’s insurance company will also be investigating the details of the accident, except that the lawyers for the insurance company will be searching for any evidence that would allow them to deny liability so they do not need to pay the injured driver any kind of recovery.
As Baltimore auto injury attorneys, we highly recommend that anyone hurt by a careless driver contact a legal professional as soon as possible following a crash. By doing so, you will give your attorney the maximum amount of time in which to collect the relevant information and prepare a proper claim.
Some states have legal statutes that provide for something called “comparative negligence,” which allows the court to compare the fault of each driver involved in an accident. Depending on the outcome of the comparison, the person who is judged to be more at fault will pay the damages, but the less-at-fault motorist will usually have his or her compensation reduced by the percentage of their fault.
Unfortunately, while comparative negligence rules are usually much more fair, Maryland law includes what some feel is a rather harsh rule called “contributory negligence.” Based on Maryland’s contributory negligence rule, if the actions of the plaintiff contributed in any way to the traffic accident in question, the court will deny the claim against the driver who was the primary cause of your accident. What this can mean is if the person who files a personal injury claim is found to be just one percent at fault in the accident, in theory that individual will not be entitled to recover damages from the 99-percent at-fault driver.
At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we understand Maryland auto accident and insurance law. Determining the potential for a personal injury claim is part of our job, where finding out if there is liability can mean the difference between a successful lawsuit and one that is denied by the court. Whether your injuries were sustained in a motorcycle, passenger car or commercial trucking crash, our attorneys are ready to assist.
If you or a family member have been injured in a Maryland or Washington, D.C., traffic collision, we recommend that you contact a qualified legal professional with experienced in handling these types of injury-related auto accident. The professionals at Lebowitz & Mzhen are more than happy to speak with victims or their families regarding their rights under the law. Please call our law offices at (800) 654-1949 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation; or, you may email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up an appointment.