When can someone be held liable after a car accident?

Most people don't understand how liability is determined after a car accident. That can lead to a lot of unnecessary confusion and frustration when you're injured in a wreck.

It's important to understand that accident liability is usually a complex issue. It often isn't something that can accurately be decided in a few minutes by an officer who arrives on the scene well after an accident is over. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Someone doesn't have to be cited to be liable for an accident.

Police and insurance companies operate by different rules. In essence, police officers make a judgment call about whether or not an accident was avoidable and issue citations accordingly. Depending on the circumstances, the police could cite one driver, both drivers -- or neither.

That doesn't mean the insurance companies will agree with the officer's assessment. If you believe that your injuries in a car accident were the result of the other driver's negligence, you have a right to ask for compensation.

2. The other driver may be liable even if you also made mistakes.

Maybe you started out of your driveway and up your street before you got your seat belt firmly latched. As a result, your injuries were worse than they might have been when the other driver hit you after he or she rolled through a stop sign.

In Louisiana, partial responsibility does not bar you from recovering something for your injuries. Louisiana follows a rule known as "pure comparative fault" regarding personal injuries. As long as the other driver is even slightly responsible for what happened, you can collect at least a portion of your damages.

3. Evidence is the most important factor.

The more evidence you can gather to show who is really responsible for an accident, the better your chances of holding the other driver liable for your injuries.

If you are able, take photos at the scene of the accident. Get shots of the other driver's car, the road and any debris from the vehicles. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses. All of those things can help insurance investigators (or a jury, if the case eventually has to be taken into court) assign accident liability to the right party.

Source: esurance, "the blame game: how fault is determined after a car accident," accessed June 08, 2018

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