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third party caused car accident

Determining Liability when a Third Party Causes a Car Accident

There are millions of auto accidents in the United States each year, and most of them are the result of some type of negligence. In fact, a Stanford University analysis concluded that at least 90% of all motor vehicle crashes are caused at least in part by human error. But human error can mean a number of different things.

In addition to driver negligence, there are several third parties that could be responsible for a car crash. And understanding which parties may be at fault and what is necessary to hold them accountable opens up additional legal avenues from which an accident injury victim can recover compensation.

Claims against third parties are typically more complicated and difficult to pursue than a standard vehicle crash, however. For this reason, it is very important to work with an attorney who knows what to look for in these types of cases and has the proven ability to ensure that all responsible parties are held fully accountable.

If you have been injured in an auto accident in West Virginia, you can trust the attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. to aggressively pursue maximum compensation on your behalf. Call us today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online for a free consultation and case assessment.

Third Parties that May Be Responsible for a Car Accident

Employers

If an individual who is driving a company vehicle causes a vehicle crash, the company could be held liable for the accident if the employee was performing work duties during business hours. This liability may extend to an employee who is driving a personal vehicle if the employee is acting within the course and scope of his/her employment.

It is important to note that even if a company claims that the driver is an independent contractor and not an employee, there are cases in which a driver is misclassified and actually meets the legal definition of an employee. This type of situation has been known to happen frequently in the trucking industry, where the lines between an independent contractor and employee are often blurred.

Rideshare Companies

Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft maintain that their drivers are independent contractors, and most states have agreed with this classification for now. But someone who is injured because of a rideshare driver’s negligence can still file a claim against the rideshare company’s insurance policy under certain circumstances. For example, ridesharing companies maintain $1 million of liability coverage for when one of their drivers is transporting a passenger. However, there is a lot less coverage available when an Uber or Lyft driver has their app turned on but does not have a passenger in their vehicle.

Auto Repair/Maintenance Providers

A vehicle repair shop could potentially be held liable for an auto accident if the car malfunctions after being recently serviced at their shop. For example, negligent maintenance could be the cause of a crash if the mechanic installed incorrect parts, damaged the vehicle during the course of their repair, or failed to identify a repair that was needed.

Product Makers

When a design or manufacturing defect causes an auto accident, the manufacturer, distributor, and other parties within the faulty product’s supply chain could be held responsible. Examples of product defects that could result in a vehicle accident include brake failures, tire blowouts, and computer malfunctions that cause sudden vehicle shutdowns.

Car Owners

If a person entrusts their vehicle to someone else who is inexperienced, intoxicated, or is known to be a dangerous or unfit driver, the car owner could be held liable under the legal theory known as “negligent entrustment”. Liability could also extend to parents and grandparents who allow their child or grandchild to drive their car even though the child does not have enough experience or is known to be reckless or incompetent.

Liquor Establishments/Providers

West Virginia courts have held that a bar, liquor store, or similar establishment can be held liable for personal injuries caused by someone who is physically incapacitated by drinking. In a case like this, it would need to be established that the person the establishment served alcohol to was “visibly intoxicated.” Video footage and eyewitness testimony can be very helpful in proving this claim.

Third-Party Liability Accident Claims in West Virginia

As we talked about earlier, holding a third party liable for a personal injury is far more difficult than establishing negligence on the part of someone who was directly involved. An extensive investigation is necessary to uncover all of the important facts and pieces of evidence in order to determine the root cause (of the injury) and all contributing factors.

West Virginia’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the date of the injury (in most cases), but the sooner you get an experienced attorney involved, the better your chances of recovering the full and fair compensation you deserve. At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., our attorneys are ready to go to work for you! Get in touch with us today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 to schedule your complimentary consultation.

accident in a company vehicle

What Happens if you are Involved in a Crash with a Company Vehicle?

If you get into an auto accident while driving a company vehicle, the case can be far more complicated than accidents that happen in a personal car. One of the first issues will be determining who is at fault and who is responsible to pay for the injuries and other losses that are sustained.

In most accidents that happen with a company vehicle, the employer’s liability coverage would kick in if the employee is responsible for an accident that happens while they are working. But if the accident occurred when they were not working (e.g., while driving to or from work), then the employer’s coverage would not apply. The same holds true if the employee was committing a crime (e.g., driving drunk on the job) or using the vehicle for personal or recreational activities outside of work.

If you are injured in a company vehicle while on the job, you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp covers medical bills and a percentage of lost earnings when you are out of work. Unfortunately, this program does not provide coverage for noneconomic losses that you may have suffered, such as pain-and-suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life.

However, if the driver of the other vehicle was at fault for the auto accident, then you can file a personal injury claim against their insurance company. This would allow you to recover both economic and noneconomic damages.

West Virginia Modified Comparative Negligence Laws

There are some instances when more than one driver is at fault for an auto accident. For example, let’s say you rear-ended the car in front of you because they were slow to move after the red light turned green. This might initially appear to be your fault, but later it is learned that the other driver was sending a text at the time when the light changed.

Because the other driver was texting while driving (a traffic violation), it is ultimately determined that they are more responsible for the accident than you were. In such cases, state comparative fault laws would apply.

West Virginia uses a modified form of comparative negligence for personal injury cases. In the Mountain State, if you are less than 50% at fault for the underlying accident or event, then you can still recover damages. However, your damage award would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault you share.

So, in the previous example, if you sustained a total of $100,000 in damages and you are determined to be 20% at fault for the accident, your compensation would be reduced by $20,000 down to a total of $80,000.

When a Third Party is Responsible for a Car Accident in a Company Vehicle

Most auto accidents are the result of human error, but sometimes, the responsibility lies with a party that is not directly involved in the accident. This type of scenario happens commonly with commercial accidents in which an outside party plays a role. Examples include:

  • Improperly Loaded Vehicles: When a company vehicle is used to ship products, the cargo/shipping company that loaded the vehicle could be at fault if the vehicle was unevenly loaded or loaded beyond its weight limits. This problem is most common with large tractor-trailers.
  • Negligent Maintenance: If an accident happens because of mechanical failure, it could be the fault of the party responsible for maintaining the company vehicle.
  • Faulty Products: Mechanical breakdown could also be caused by a dangerous or defective vehicle part, such as a brand-new tire that blows out after a minimal amount of use or a new steering system that malfunctions.
  • Poorly Maintained Roadways: Some auto accidents are caused by poor road conditions, such as potholes or cracks in the road surface, damaged or hidden road signs, and missing or inadequate guardrails. In cases like these, the party in charge of maintaining the roadways could be at fault. If this is a government entity, there are special rules that need to be followed if you plan to pursue a claim against them.

Injured in an Auto Accident in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Assistance

If you or a loved one suffered injury while driving a company vehicle, this could become a very complex case. For this reason, it makes sense to get an experienced personal injury attorney involved as early as possible, so your legal rights and interests are fully protected.

If your accident occurred in West Virginia, contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for skilled legal guidance. We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and explore every potential legal avenue toward recovering maximum compensation. To get started, call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or send us an online message to schedule your free consultation. We look forward to serving you!

distracted driving, and car accidents

What Percentage of Auto Accidents are Caused by Human Error?

There are numerous reasons why a car accident may occur. Driver negligence, bad weather, poor road conditions, and the negligence of third parties could all be contributors, and sometimes, they are caused by a combination of several different factors.

Most of the time, auto accidents are preventable. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that somewhere between 94% and 96% of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by some type of human error. Other studies show slightly lower percentages, but the general consensus among experts is that human error contributes to at least 90% of the auto accidents that occur on the roadways.

Most Common Causes of Auto Accidents

The NHTSA identifies several different reasons why car accidents occur, and the majority of them would fall under the category of driver negligence or carelessness. Among these include:

  • Speeding: More than 9,000 individuals are killed each year because of speeding. We have all done it at one time or another, and for many motorists, speeding is common practice. But no matter how “normal” it seems, speeding endangers the lives of everyone on the road. When a driver is traveling too fast, they have less time to slow down and react to adverse conditions on the road. In addition, collisions at higher speeds tend to result in more severe and catastrophic injuries.
  • Aggressive/Reckless Driving: In our modern era, a lot of people are trying to juggle a busy schedule. And in a rush to get from one place to another, it is tempting to cut corners by driving aggressively or in some cases, recklessly. Excessive speeding is one example of aggressive or reckless driving, others include tailgating, illegal or dangerous passing maneuvers, and running red lights or stop signs. All such behaviors heighten the chances of a vehicle accident.
  • Distracted Driving: Motorists have more distractions these days than ever before. Among the worst of these is the temptation to send and receive text messages on a cell phone. Texting while driving is especially dangerous, because it distracts drivers in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. This pulls the driver’s entire focus away from the road, causing them to miss important details such as a vehicle slowing down in front of them.
  • Drunk Driving: A 15-year study that was published in S. News & World Report found that 37% of all motor vehicle deaths involved at least one intoxicated driver. 29 Americans die every day because of drunk driving and countless more become seriously injured. In addition, alcohol-related crashes cost our society more than $44 billion each year.
  • Drowsy Driving: According to the National Sleep Foundation, 41% of drivers surveyed admitted that they have fallen asleep at the wheel at some point in their lives, and 10% reported that they have done it in the past year. This is obviously extremely dangerous, but even if a tired or fatigued driver does not fall asleep, they still have slower reaction times, and their peripheral vision is limited as all of their facilities must be used to try to stay awake.

Third-Party Liability for Car Accidents

Liability for some auto accidents might fall with a party other than the drivers involved. If this is the case, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim directly against the responsible party. Examples of third parties that could be at fault for a motor vehicle accident include:

  • Vehicle passengers who grab the steering wheel or otherwise distract the driver.
  • Vehicle owners or lessors who negligently entrust the car to someone who is known to be an unfit driver.
  • Employers whose employees cause accidents because they were improperly vetted or poorly trained.
  • Establishments who serve alcohol to a driver who is clearly intoxicated.
  • Mechanics and auto shops who perform negligent maintenance or repairs which contribute to the accident.
  • The manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of a defective or dangerous vehicle or vehicle part.

Auto accident cases that involve outside parties are inherently more complicated than a standard vehicle collision case. An extensive investigation is necessary to identify any factors that could have contributed to the accident so all parties can be held fully responsible. This is why it is very important to work with attorneys who have in-depth experience with these types of cases and the proven ability to recover maximum compensation on behalf of injury victims.

Injured in an Auto Accident in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Assistance

If you or a loved one got hurt in a car accident, Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. is here to help. We can meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of all your legal rights and options. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979. We look forward to serving you!

 

Car Accident Injury Attorney - Bailey Javins & Carter

How Difficult is it To Recover Damages After a Car Accident in West Virginia?

You are out enjoying a relaxing and scenic drive on a sunny West Virginia day, when another vehicle crashes into yours. Your car is totaled, and you also suffer some injuries. After visiting the doctor, you find out that your injuries are more serious than you initially thought. You are experiencing severe physical pain, and it looks like you may miss work for a while.

Being injured in a motor vehicle accident can turn your whole world upside down. Mounting medical bills and several weeks (or even months) out of work can put an enormous financial and emotional strain on you and your family. You already filed a claim with your insurance company, but you are not sure where to go from here. The question you keep asking is “how difficult is it to recover damages after a West Virginia car accident?”

When is a Car Accident Victim Eligible for Damages in West Virginia?

There are three general types of negligence laws states use to establish responsibility in a personal injury case; pure contributory negligence, pure comparative negligence, and modified comparative negligence. West Virginia uses modified comparative negligence.

Why is this important? Because in states (such as next door in Virginia) that use pure contributory negligence, an accident victim cannot recover damages at all even if they are just 1% at fault and the other party holds 99% of the blame. With pure comparative negligence, accident victims recover damages in proportion to the percentage they are at fault. Using this same example, the individual with 1% of fault is eligible to collect 99% of the damages, and the individual who is 99% at fault is eligible to collect 1% of the damages.

West Virginia’s modified comparative negligence law allows accident victims to collect damages if they are 50% or less at fault for their injuries. For example, if an individual suffers $20,000 in damages and is determined to be 49% at fault, they would be eligible to collect 51% of the damages, which in this case would be $10,200. This standard is much more favorable for victims of car accidents than the pure contributory standard Virginia uses.

Damages Available in West Virginia Auto Accident Cases

In car accident cases, there are two general types of damages; property damage and personal injury. Property damage means damage to the vehicle itself and to any personal property within the vehicle. Personal injury means injuries sustained by you and any passengers that were riding in the vehicle.

In most cases, accident victims are entitled to both economic and non-economic damages for the injuries they sustain. In addition to property damage, examples of economic damages include:

  • Hospital Bills
  • Rehabilitation and other Medical Expenses
  • Time Missed from Work/Lost Wages

Examples of non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and Suffering
  • Emotional Distress
  • Disfigurement and other Permanent Injuries
  • Punitive Damages (awarded only in rare cases of especially egregious conduct by the responsible party)

Non-economic damages are the most complex and challenging to value. For example, if an insurer agrees that their client is over 50% at fault for an accident, they may be willing to pay proportionally for the property damage, medical expenses, and lost wages. However, it may be far more difficult to convince them to pay the proper value for the pain and suffering and emotional distress an individual goes through after a car accident.

The Importance of Skilled Legal Representation

Many auto accident victims wonder if it is worthwhile to speak to a lawyer, or should they just accept whatever settlement the insurance company offers? Many insurance companies will tell you that you will receive the same settlement amount regardless of whether or not you retain legal representation.

The reality is that the insurance company is not acting in your best interests (even if you are dealing with your own insurer). The goal of the insurance adjuster is to save the company money, and this is accomplished by settling the case quickly and for as little as possible. So if you accept their offer, you are likely to receive only a fraction of the compensation you are entitled to.

If you have been injured in an auto accident in West Virginia, speak with a seasoned personal injury attorney before accepting any kind of offer from an insurance company. A skilled attorney can thoroughly evaluate the circumstances of your accident and give you a good estimate of what your claim is worth. This will allow you to make a more informed decision regarding what legal avenue it is best to pursue.

It is important to speak with an attorney sooner rather than later, however, because the statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim in West Virginia is only two years. Once that window of time has passed, you are no longer able to recover damages through the courts for your auto accident claim.