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Investigating Liability

Sometimes liability is obvious and requires almost no investigation. For example, if you are rear-ended in a car accident, the person who hit your car is probably responsible for your injuries. Other times liability is not clear at all. Sometimes, liability might be pretty obvious against one person, but for many different reasons, it may be important to find additional people who contributed to, and also bear some share of responsibility for, your injuries. For example, if a drunk driver hits your car and the driver purchased alcohol from someone who knew the driver was addicted to alcohol, then that person or business who sold the alcohol may also be liable.

Understanding Comparative Fault

In other cases, the other person involved in the accident may not be completely liable. You may have been speeding when someone hit your car and you were both comparatively at fault for the accident. It’s a fact of life that mistakes happen. But your mistake should not prevent you from recovering your damages from the other person in a civil case. Instead, your damages are only reduced by the amount of fault that the civil court assigns to you. For instance, if you have $100,000 in damages and the court finds that you were only 30% at fault, you are still allowed to recover the remaining $70,000 from the other driver.

Third Party Liability

Another consideration is that multiple parties could be liable for your accident. Say you were  hit by another driver and crashed into a guardrail. You ended up with $100,000 in damages. During the investigation of your case, you discover that the guardrail was not installed in the correct place, and if it was where it was supposed to be, you would not have crashed into it. Now the person who crashed into you and the person or people who installed the guardrail are all liable for your injuries. If the civil court finds the other driver 60% liable and the guardrail installers 40% liable, then the other driver must pay you $60,000 and the party in charge of installing the guardrail must pay you $40,000.

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