Who is at Fault?

When accidents happen, the injured party is entitled to receive compensation from the party that caused the accident. Sometimes the cause of an accident is clearly evident, as in a case where you are struck from behind while riding or operating a vehicle. Other times, it is not as easy to identify the source of the injury. For example, if you are in a car wreck involving several automobiles, it may be difficult to pinpoint which car caused the accident. Likewise, if safety precautions such as use of seatbelts and other restraints were not in use, assigning fault for a specific injury may prove challenging. Skilled lawyers have experience reviewing the totality of the circumstances involved in an accident and determining the cause of injury.

The law refers to the determination of what caused an injury as proximate cause. Successful personal injury cases include an accurate determination of cause and require analysis of many factors. Because every injury is different, no one list can completely encompass all the factors necessary to examine in order to make a finding of cause. However, two of the key elements to any case are:

Who is responsible?
When an accident is caused by a party with a duty to not cause harm, the party breaching that duty is responsible. For example: we all owe other motorists a duty of care to operate our vehicles in a safe and reasonable manner. This includes devoting full time and attention to driving, rather than engaging in other activities (such as texting) while behind the wheel of a car. Failing to operate a vehicle as is reasonably expected breaches the duty of care and when an accident results, the driver is responsible.

What is the result?
When the result of the breach of care required is an injury to the person or property of another, the person not meeting the required standard of care is liable.

A good rule of thumb to determine proximate cause of an injury is to ask if the harm would have occurred had the negligent party not been acting negligently. If, without the negligent act, the injury would have been avoided, then the person acting negligently is the proximate cause of the harms suffered.

If you have been in an accident, contact a competent personal injury attorney at Hartel, DeSantis & Howie, LLP. Serving clients in Virginia and Washington, D.C., we know how to examine the facts unique to your case and make a determination as to the cause of injury. We aggressively pursue your legal rights to compensation from the negligent party and seek to make you whole after an accident occurs. Call to make an appointment for a free initial consultation.

By Michael A. DeSantis | Published June 27, 2014