When you are involved in an accident, one of the first things that you will have to determine is who is at fault. When you are in an accident with a vehicle of a different class, you might be lead to believe that one of you is automatically at fault. While it would be nice if there were such clear cut answers in the law, this is rarely the case. Understanding whether a car, truck, motorcycle or even bicycle should be automatically liable requires you to spend a few moments considering how the law works and why it’s a bad idea for the vehicle to automatically carry with it liability.
First and foremost, it’s important to get rid of a few myths of the road. It really doesn’t matter what vehicle you’re driving – anyone can be at fault in an accident. While it might make sense to some that a car is always at fault when it is involved in an accident with a bike or motorcycle, this isn’t true. Likewise, it isn’t true that a court will always find a truck at fault in any accident. Most of the myths involving fault are just that – myths. They have no basis in reality, and one certainly shouldn’t plan on them holding true.
Likewise, it’s a good idea to get rid of any ideas that there’s something special about being on a bicycle that keeps you from having to follow the rules of the road. While bicyclists might find themselves taking advantage of their status in some situations, most know that they are required to follow all the rules of the road. While bicyclists are perhaps at the biggest disadvantage when it comes to accidents, they are just as liable as anyone else. Don’t look at bikes as something special – they are just another vehicle on the road.
Injuries Don’t Matter
You might also think that the extent of the injuries will matter the most when it comes to determining fault. There’s a kind of logic to this train of thought, with most people wanting to make sure that the person who is hurt the most is the person for whom any monetary awards must be made. Unfortunately, this just isn’t how the law works. If this was the case, bicycle and motorcycle riders would never be at fault and a disproportionate number of truck drivers would find themselves out of work due to the number of times they were found to cause accidents.
Indeed, you have to remove the severity of the injury out of your mind when you are thinking about who will be at fault. Many different things can happen when you are in an accident and you can be hurt even if you were the person who caused the problems in the first place. Instead of looking at the severity of the injury, one must stop and look at why the injury occurred. This means that sometimes, a bicycle rider who was severely injured will still be considered at fault even when the car involved in the accident was in no way damaged.
The Cause of the Accident
In the end, courts only look at who caused the accident. It doesn’t matter the size or the class of vehicle, but rather the way in which the driver handled himself or herself. This leads to many situations in which it’s hard to understand why one party or the other was held at fault, at least until you look at the situation entirely dispassionately. If you look at things on a purely legal level, you’ll be able to see how fault tends to be determined by the court.
The easiest way to determine fault is to figure out if one of the parties was acting negligently. In the law, negligence is acting in a manner that demonstrates a lack of normal care. A driver who is texting generally demonstrates negligence. This also holds true for a motorcyclist who don’t keep their eyes on the road. You can also determine fault if one of the parties was doing something that was against the law – think of bicyclists who ride against traffic, or truck drivers who drive in the wrong lanes. Fault is most easily determined when one part acts against what would be expected of them.
Who is at fault in an automotive accident? That’s a question for the courts to decide. What is sure, though, is the class of vehicle involved in the accident won’t automatically cause one driver or the other to be found liable. What is important is how the driver comports himself or herself, not what he or she is driving. There’s rarely an easy answer when it comes to fault, so don’t listen to those who try to give you an easy solution.