Picture this … you are involved in a car crash and the other driver was texting and driving. Or weather conditions were hazardous and you were hit by another vehicle traveling at an unsafe speed in the opposite direction.
Who is ultimately at fault and how is that fault determined?
In general, car accident lawyers will break a case down into two separate categories – liability and damages. The goal of this distinction is to discern who is at fault, and how the accident affected the parties involved.
By analyzing these aspects of the case, a clearer idea of who should be held accountable for the events leading to the accident is made. However, coming to this distinction is often not clear-cut, and creates a need to further define both liability and damages to fully understand the judgment of a case.
Let’s discuss these key factors in more detail.
What is Liability?
When someone is held liable for their actions in a car accident, they are considered the party at fault. But how is the conclusion made, and by what criteria is it judged? The facts of the case are analyzed in terms of accountability, or rather, how might an accident be avoided altogether.
It is the responsibility of the party at fault (and the claimant) to understand how their actions behind the wheel might affect others. All drivers have a duty to use "ordinary care", which is legalese for being careful.
They are expected to look before they proceed, to signal before they turn, and to maintain proper management and control of their vehicle to avoid a collision. A common example carelessness is texting and driving. Could the accident have been avoided if the defendant (or claimant) had been more attentive to the road?
However, determining the liable party is not always so simple, and people may not view fault the same way. For example, if insurance adjusters and claimants cannot agree on who is at fault, the case will be brought to a jury to analyze the facts of a case.
What are Damages?
Damages refer to the repercussions of a collision. Damages can vary depending on a case.
- In a car accident, damages could refer to damage sustained by an automobile, medical expenses incurred after the accident, pain sufferring and disability, or in some cases, psychological stress sustained by the claimant.
- Damages are typically separate and distinct from liability, but having egregious liability facts, drunk driving for instance, can lead to juror anger that tends to enhance damages. Using the texting example from earlier, many people can relate to almost being hit by someone who is texting and driving, and that anger may result in a verdict that punishes the driver by awarding significant damages.
Milwaukee car accident lawyers analyze all of these variables in hopes of building stronger cases for their clients. Remember, if you are in a collision, take pictures following the accident to strengthen your case.
Of course, it is better to try and avoid a situation like this altogether. Driving attentively is will not only help strengthen your case if you should end up in a car accident, but it will also help avoid one altogether.
Was this helpful in furthering your understanding of liability and damages? Are there any questions you might have or information you would like to add to the conversation? Please let us know with a comment below.
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At Murphy & Prachthauser we are car accident attorneys in Milwaukee and personal injury attorneys in Milwaukee who practice the law the way it should be practiced – motivated and equipped to do our best for you. We take pride in being good lawyers who help people.
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