If you've been injured in a car accident, you expect the at-fault party to compensate you for your medical expenses, your wrecked car, and more. While the term "liability" is often heard when people get involved in personal injury situations, many people don't really have a good understanding of what it means. In fact, liability is one of the most important factors in the amount of money damages you may be entitled to, and this term could spell the difference between a good and an inadequate settlement. Read on to learn more about liability and what it means to your personal injury settlement.
What does liability really mean?
Legally, liability means culpability or "blameworthy without evil intent". For example, the other driver hit you but presumably not on purpose; it was an accident. They are, however, still at fault. Liability can be determined using three main factors, and the terms below are often found in personal injury claims but often misunderstood:
Duty of Care: When you get behind the wheel, you owe other drivers, passengers, pedestrians and others a duty of care. You are responsible for being as careful as you can be, abiding by the rules of the road, paying attention, and whatever else it takes to do your part to create a safe environment on the road.
Breach of Duty of Care: The word "breach" means opening or gap, and when you breach your duty of care, it means that you have caused an accident as a result of your failure to abide by the duty of care.
Proximate Cause: Whatever action or lack of action that led to the accident is known as the proximate cause. For example, if you ran a stop sign and caused an accident, the running of the stop sign is the proximate cause of the accident.
The issue of liability and how to prove it can be confusing, and it may surprise you to find that often liability cannot be placed entirely on a single driver or cause. So, even though it may seem obvious to you and others that the other driver caused the accident, it may not be that simple. The key element to keep in mind in that there must exist a direct link between the accident and the proximate cause. If there is no clear and direct link between the accident and the proximate cause, there may be a reduction in the amount of compensation due to the reduced liability on the part of the at-fault driver.
For more information, contact Richard Glazer Law Office or a similar firm.