How To Determine Fault In A Car Accident

The experience of a car accident is traumatic in itself. The fallout just adds stress upon stress. You have physical injuries, emotional distress, and a whole new set of financial troubles. Compensation is key to your recovery. But to collect compensation, you have to identify the party responsible for the accident and prove that the party’s negligence actually caused your accident and subsequent injuries.

You might think determining fault is easy–the “other guy” is the culprit. You might be right, but it is risky to build an injury on “might.” In reality, the path to determining fault is not always clear, and without legal knowledge and experience, you could easily miss the mark. Instead, trust this critical process with a skilled car accident lawyer in Maryland from the Snyder Law Group, LLC.

Why Determining Fault is Important

If you can only collect a settlement by proving the at-fault party’s negligence, you need to be sure you have identified that party correctly. You may think a speeding driver caused your accident, but what if that driver’s brakes failed? In that case, the car manufacturer, inspector, or mechanic who “fixed” those brakes might actually be to blame.

There are four elements to negligence, and you have to prove each one to show the at-fault party is culpable for the accident.
- Duty of care: This is a legal obligation to keep others safe. Every single driver on the road owes all others on the road a duty of care. This means drivers have to obey traffic laws, avoid dangerous driving behaviors, and practice safe driving behaviors
- Breach in duty: When a driver fails to uphold their duty of care, they have breached their duty. Perhaps they are driving under the influence (DUI), driving while distracted, or recklessly swerving in and out of lanes
- Causation: You have to prove the driver’s breach of duty is the actual cause of the accident–not something else
- Damages: The accident and its consequences caused you quantifiable damages. Your attorney will help you calculate your losses thoroughly

Steps to Take to Determine Fault

The Snyder Law Group, LLC has the knowledge of the law, experience, and resources needed to identify the at-fault party. Accidents are often complicated events, and our team knows how to untangle those complications by gathering evidence from a variety of sources.

One important way of gathering evidence is to consult with accident reconstructionists. Essentially, accident reconstructionists work in reverse to figure out the series of events and circumstances that led to the accident. They will likely collect evidence from the accident scene itself, photo and video footage, police reports, and other sources to reconstruct the accident and discover its cause.

Your attorneys will also gather witness testimonies, medical records, and input from other experts to determine fault. If there is evidence, our team will find it.

How You Can Help Build Your Case

The priority immediately following a car accident is safety. If it is too dangerous for you to move–perhaps you have injuries to your head, neck, or spine–stay put until emergency care arrives. But if you can move without injuring yourself, try to get yourself and others out of the way of traffic.

Then, take steps to help your case. Take pictures and video of the accident scene, including damage to and the positions of the cars, road conditions, traffic signals, and any other relevant details. Collect contact information from the others involved and from witnesses. If you do not need immediate medical attention, still get to a doctor promptly to have your injuries documented and prevent your condition from worsening.

Possible Negligent Parties

There are a variety of potential negligent parties in a car accident, which is why it is so important not to make quick assumptions.

The Other Driver

In many cases, another driver is at fault. According to Zero Deaths Maryland, for the most recent full year of data collection, there were 108,365 car accidents statewide. Of that total,
- 532 were fatal, causing 564 deaths
- 28,015 caused injuries, leaving 40,707 people injured
- 79,818 caused property damage

Of these accidents,
- 5,777 involved DUI
- 3,365 involved aggressive driving
- 7,925 involved speeding
- 51,032 involved distracted driving

Driving fatigue or error can also lead to accidents.

Car or Part Manufacturers

We rely on car and part manufacturers to produce safe and properly working equipment. Safety features are useless if defective, and malfunctioning steering or brake systems can easily lead to disaster.

We also depend on car inspectors and mechanics to recognize malfunctions and fix them before telling us our vehicles are safe for travel.

Government Entities

Different government offices are responsible for maintaining safe road conditions, ensuring streets are well-lit, and keeping traffic signals operational and traffic signs visible. If they fail in their duties, and that failure leads to your accident, the assigned government entity may be responsible.

It is important to note that filing a claim against a government entity follows a different set of regulations and procedures than filing against a person or a private company.

No matter who is at fault for your accident, The Snyder Law Group, LLC will identify them, build a strong case to prove their negligence and fight to hold them accountable and get you the compensation you deserve.

How Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Laws Affect Fault

Maryland follows a contributory negligence system for car accident claims. Under contributory negligence statutes, victims who bear fault–even just a little bit–for the accident can be prevented from collecting compensation for their losses. It is easy to see how victims can be devastated by this restriction, especially since the at-fault party’s representative will seize on it as an opportunity to get out of paying victims what they deserve.

There is no reason to lose hope or give up the fight, though. The Snyder Law Group, LLC is not afraid of insurance companies and will not let them get away with assigning you unfair blame. Further, Maryland has adopted other legal measures to support victims in their fight, such as the “last clear chance” doctrine, and your lawyer will know how to apply these measures to your case.

We Hold Negligent Parties Accountable

The Snyder Law Group, LLC is here for you. We fight for car accident victims in Maryland and Washington, D.C., by identifying the at-fault parties and holding them accountable. When someone else causes an accident that leaves you with physical, financial, and emotional injuries, you deserve compensation. Connect with us today. Our Baltimore car accident attorneys are ready to fight for you.

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Posted - 10/06/2023