Special Aspects of Liability in Car Accident Cases
Contributory NegligenceSome state personal injury laws recognize contributory negligence in a car accident liability case. If the victims contributed to an accident by their own negligence, they may not be allowed to claim damages for personal injury from the other party. For instance, a car driver taking a right-turn without giving appropriate signal gets struck by another vehicle that was speeding; it may be treated as a case of contributory liability.
Under certain state laws, both parties may not be allowed to make any claim against each other because the accident was caused by their mutual negligence, termed as pure contributory negligence. Some state laws include the aspect of modified contributory negligence to determine liability in a car accident case. In such case, a victim may sue the other party if the victim's contribution to the accident was less than 50 percent.
Comparative LiabilitySome state personal injury laws consider the theory of comparative negligence to determine liability. Such law allows a victim to make a legal claim against another party regardless of the fact whether the victim made any contribution to the causing of the accident. Damages in such cases may be awarded in proportion to the percentage of negligence that can be attributed to each party involved in the accident. In a situation of comparative liability, the jury may determine the amount of damages, but allow the plaintiff to recover only such percentage of the amount from the defendant which is the apportioned liability of the defendant.
For instance, in a car accident case where the amount of damages is decided to be at $10,000, the plaintiff may be allowed to recover only $6,000 from the defendant if the fault of the defendant is determined to be about 60 percent in causing the accident.
Vicarious Liability in a Car AccidentA case of vicarious liability in a car accident may arise when the person who caused the accident was driving a car belonging to another person, with the explicit or implicit permission of that person. Most of the states allow the driver as well as the owner of the car that caused the accident to be included in a lawsuit filed by the victim. This permission is granted under the legal theory of vicarious liability. Sometimes even where the statute of owner's liability is absent, vicarious liability of the owner may still arise under the theory of negligent entrustment of the car to another individual. This could be if the owner loaned their car and keys to someone who has a history of speeding and driving recklessly. The principle of vicarious liability of the owner may also be applicable in situations where a car accident is caused by a driver who has been employed by the car owner.