Who Is Liable In A Car Accident?

If you've been in a car accident recently in St. Louis, you are probably asking yourself many questions about the wreck and what to do next. One of those questions, without a doubt, involves finding out who was responsible for the accident and therefore whose insurance company you should contact to begin the claims process. Determining fault in a St. Louis car accident is not always a straightforward process, though--doubly so if you were in a multiple-car accident.

As veteran personal injury lawyers who have taken multiple auto accident cases in Missouri and Illinois, the attorneys at Halvorsen Klote have dealt with multiple car crashes where liability was unclear or the original determination was incorrect. Today, they hope to help you understand how car accident liability is determined, and how that might affect your Missouri or Illinois car crash lawsuit. Talk to us today if you have been in a car wreck recently and have any other questions about the best way to proceed.

Understanding Comparative Fault

Before we explain how insurance companies and the police assign liability in an accident, it is important to explain the concept of comparative fault. This is a legal principle used by 46 states--including both Missouri and Illinois--in personal-injury lawsuits such as car crash cases. Under comparative fault, the degree of liability is determined and those responsible for a certain percentage of an accident have to pay damages proportional to that percentage.

It should be noted that there are differences even in the comparative fault system. Missouri, for instance, uses a pure comparative fault model, which means that if, for instance, someone was only 5% responsible for an accident, even though they were not very liable they still can have their settlement or award reduced by 5% to pay for damages to another party. Illinois operates under the modified comparative fault system, where only those who were 51% or more at fault for an accident are liable for damages.

How Fault Is Determined

After an accident, insurance companies and the police look at all aspects of a car crash to determine liability. Factors like reckless behavior (such as using a phone while driving), negligence (careless driving acts like speeding or not using a turn signal), and witness statements are all taken into consideration. Insurance firms then use complex mathematical formulas to figure out who was responsible for how much of your St. Louis car accident. These conclusions are often disputed, and we have helped many people from across Missouri and Illinois prove that what the insurance company decided was not actually the case in their accident.

There could be other, complicating factors at play in your accident as well. For instance, the person driving the car that hit you may not have been its owner, but rather someone who was given permission to drive the car by its owner. Usually, car insurance is tied to the owner of the car, but in Missouri medical car insurance coverage is tied to drivers. This could complicate matters if you are physically injured as the result of an accident, which makes talking to an experienced car accident attorney all the more crucial.

Protect Yourself After A Car Accident

Determining liability after a car accident is a difficult task. If you believe the decisions made by the insurance company were incorrect, or are unsure about how to proceed after a multi-car accident, call 877-51-HKLAW to speak with an experienced St. Louis auto accident attorney. The team at Halvorsen Klote is here to help guide you through the legal process after you've been in a car accident in Missouri and Illinois, especially when fault is difficult to determine.