The Kinds Of Liability In Injury And Accident Law

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Injury and accident compensation depends on the legal concept of liability. If a victim can prove to an insurer, a defendant, or a jury that the defendant was liable, they may be able to reach a settlement or successfully sue. There are many kinds of liability, though. The distinctions matter, and this article will look at four of the more common types.

General Negligence

Most cases fall into this category. For example, a car accident lawyer pursuing a client's claim will usually assert that another driver didn't take sufficient care in operating their vehicle. The at-fault driver most likely didn't mean for something to happen. However, they also didn't do enough to prevent the accident. Perhaps the at-fault motorist failed to observe a stop sign and teed the victim's car.

One shortcoming of general negligence is that it often splits responsibility. The victim in the example might have been speeding. Maybe a jury rules that the victim was 20% responsible in a case with $1 million in damages. The award would subtract the 20% so the victim only received $800,000.

Strict Liability

Some cases apply strict liability. As long as the defendant was at fault in any way, they are entirely liable. A dog bite attorney might pursue a theory of strict liability if the animal in question had attacked people before. In many states, strict liability applies if an animal was known to be dangerous. The dog bite lawyer could insist that the defendant or their insurer pay all of the damages.

Intentional Torts

Not all accidents are really accidents. Imagine that a car accident attorney found evidence that an incident was the product of road rage. Maybe the at-fault driver decided to run the victim off the road.

Intentional torts may lead to full liability, especially if the victim didn't instigate the incident. Picture a road-rage scenario where the attacker went after the wrong car. They would probably be liable for all of the damages.

Gross Negligence

Even if something is an accident, there are limits to how much the at-fault party could ignore basic safety. Gross negligence applies when a party ignores obvious safety problems. Perhaps a fleet operator knowingly put a vehicle back on the road with bald tires. It may not have intended to hurt anyone, but a reasonable person wouldn't take the same actions.

Cases like this may lead to heightened liability. Punitive damages may be on the table, too. Those are damages meant to punish the social ill of extreme negligence. For more information, contact a car accident lawyer near you.