Am I Liable For My Auto Accident?

By June 8, 2015 December 21st, 2017 Auto Accident Lawyer

Liability Insurance Overview
Liability coverage is a type of insurance that is used to protect people from the potential expenses that they may be held responsible for in the event of an accident. Liability insurance does not cover other types of damages that occurred to yourself or your car.
Liability coverage extends beyond medical injury to another person. It covers anything that may result in the insured person being sued for negligence, malpractice, or injury as we mentioned above. Liability insurance is used to cover the legal costs of defending the insured and to pay for the final amount that the insured person is being held liable for.
There are limits to liability coverage. Those limits will depend on the arrangement that the insured agrees to with the insurance provider beforehand. Typically, the higher the limit is, the higher the premiums will be for the person that takes out the liability coverage. Since operating a vehicle can result in catastrophic injuries, liability insurance is required by law in most states.

Liability is treated in an Auto Accident
Liability in an auto accident is determined by examining the events that led to the accident. Liability can be divided evenly or unevenly between multiple drivers. When liability is shared, the court will determine which portion each driver should be held liable for.
Usually, the fault is easy to identify. If there are acts of obvious negligence, such as running a stop sign or speeding, that person will typically be held fully responsible for the accident. In most cases, the person that has shown negligence which resulted in the accident will be held responsible for any expenses and medical costs that were caused as a result.
Liability laws will vary from state to state. Liability laws are made to set a standardized way to determine fault. Most states have similar liability laws with the one big exception between at-fault and no-fault states.

At-Fault States
An at-fault state has a process of determining who is at fault in an accident and holds that party responsible or partially responsible. The majority of states are at-fault states.

No-Fault States
A no-fault state does not attempt to determine which party is at fault in an accident. Instead, drivers in these states are required to have a minimum amount of liability coverage which will be used to cover yourself and others involved in an accident. Ideally, the required liability insurance of each person involved in the accident should cover the total amount and neither party will be held in the more responsible than the other, regardless of how the accident occurred.
The purpose of this is to avoid excessive lawsuits or forcing underinsured victims to have to go to court in order to attempt to have their medical bills paid for. The District of Columbia and 11 states including Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Utah are all no-fault states. If you are injured reach out to a licensed attorney in your particular state to find out what state specific laws apply to your case.

Liability Examples
Example 1
Mark is attempting to drive around the shoulder to get past traffic and gets hit by Steve, who tried to make a quick right turn without using his turn signal and did not see him coming up from his right.
In this example, both parties will be held liable. The Steve showed negligence by not using his turn signal to turn. Mark showed negligence by breaking the law and driving up the shoulder of the road. If this were a no-fault state, the liability coverage will handle the costs of any injury. In an at-fault state, the two parties would likely go to court in order to determine what percentage each party should be held responsible for the damages.
Example 2
Gus runs a stop light and hits Bob on his motorcycle. Bob falls off his motorcycle and suffers a minor head injury because he was not wearing his helmet as required by state law.
In this example, Gus would be held fully responsible for any medical expenses if Bob was wearing his helmet. Since Bob was not wearing his helmet and suffered a head injury because of it, Bob will be held partially responsible as well.

Are you Liable?
When it comes to determining who is liable for an auto accident, it comes down to two factors: The state you are in and if the other party is responsible for the accident occurring. If you live in a no-fault state, neither party will be held responsible according to the law. If you live in an at-fault state, you may be held fully or partially responsible if it is shown that your negligence played a part in the accident occurring.