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Other Sources of Liability Following a Car Accident

Article provided by Ferrer Shane, PL

You were out for a drive, maybe running to the grocery store or on your way to pick up the kids at soccer practice. Minding your own business, you pulled away from the curb and, suddenly, you were struck by another vehicle. You are now seriously injured, and you face immeasurable pain, mounting medical expenses, time away from work, corrective surgery, piles of medication and countless trips back and forth to the doctor or physical therapist.

Shortly after the accident, you realized that you needed to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Although your instinct was right on target, sometimes coverage amounts are just not enough to deal with the financial ramifications of a serious injury. Luckily for you, there are other potential sources of liability and of compensation following a car accident. These avenues can be explored by seeking the assistance of a personal injury attorney in your local area.

Responsibility Does Not End With the Negligent Driver

There are several potential sources of liability following a motor vehicle accident:

Did a flaw in the vehicle itself, including faulty brakes, defective tires or malfunctioning windshield wipers, cause the accident? If so, you may be able to pursue a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the vehicle, the maker of the part itself and the designers of each. In recent years there have been actions brought against several well-known motor vehicle parts manufacturers, including a series of precedent-setting cases involving tire makers. The design of a vehicle may also make it more prone to becoming involved in an accident — SUVs, for example, have been known in the past for their propensity to roll over.

Was the other driver acting within the course and scope of their employment at the time of the accident? If so, along with any claims you may have against the driver, you may also be able to file a claim against his or her employer. Employment-related claims are often brought against truck drivers, delivery persons and couriers. But, so long as there is proof that the person was acting at the behest of their employer when you were injured, the specific occupation is irrelevant. Of course, drivers of semi trucks are also subject to more stringent regulation and additional oversight by the government, and their employers and held to a higher standard. This may increase the potential for recovery.

Did an error in the design or construction of a roadway itself cause the accident which resulted in your injuries? If so, the government agency responsible for maintaining that roadway could be liable. Seemingly simple errors like not allowing for sufficient drainage (which could cause vehicles to hydroplane); improper installation of curbs or gutters; and failing to maintain traffic control devices (i.e. failing to ensure that traffic lights are operational or not righting fallen stop signs) could easily result in serious accidents and catastrophic injuries.

Does the fault for the accident lay with a negligent automotive technician? Due to the “quick-in, quick-out” nature of their businesses, shops offering oil changes, tire rotations and other services “while you wait” may not always be treating your car with the care it needs. For example, if an oil change wasn’t properly performed, your engine could overheat and seize while in traffic, making you the likely target of a collision. Even something as simple as putting the wrong type of fluid into the car — such as confusing the receptacles for antifreeze and windshield washer fluid — could cause irreparable harm to your vehicle and result in a catastrophic accident. Shops offering vehicle repair and maintenance services should be held responsible for the negligent acts of their employees, particularly if those actions cause injuries.

What Should You Do Next?

Knowledge is power: You should know your rights and know how to protect them. If you or a loved one was injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need to be focused on recovery, not on financial and legal matters. You should contact a personal injury lawyer in your area to discuss your situation and learn more about what to do next. An attorney who has experience handling car accident injury cases will provide you with invaluable advice about your potential legal options and help you determine the best course of action based on your situation.

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