Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
After being involved in a car accident, most people involved will focus on the issue of fault. People wonder whether they are at fault for the crash or how they can prove the other driver was at fault. In most car accident cases, “fault” is determined by looking at the totality of the circumstances and weighing each driver’s contribution to causing the accident. Fayetteville car accident lawyer Ken Kieklak discusses how fault is determined in a car crash in Arkansas and what you can do to prove fault and recover damages after a car accident. Call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law to discuss your case and learn more.
Factors for Deciding Fault in a Car Crash
“Fault” in a car crash is not an all or nothing issue. In many cases, the answer is simple: one driver is at fault and the other is not. More often, both drivers – or many drivers if there are more than 2 cars involved – share some of the blame in causing the crash, and the case will hinge on who is more at fault or how much fault each driver shares. Both drivers could suffer catastrophic injuries in a car crash, but looking at which party is more injured is typically not enough. Instead, courts look at a number of factors in determining who is at fault.
Courts look at the “totality of the circumstances,” meaning that they look at the road conditions, the state of each driver, and the decisions that led to the crash. Factors such as bad weather, water on the road, poor lighting in the area, and other environmental factors can contribute heavily to an accident, and it is possible that the accident was unavoidable. More often than not, one or more of the drivers did something wrong that led to the accident, and these factors are how a judge and jury will approach the fault determination.
The following are all examples of contributing causes that can put a driver at fault for a car crash:
If one of the drivers was intoxicated or on drugs when the crash occurred, they would likely be found at fault for the accident. Drunk driving is a serious driving offense, and there is no excuse for getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. If you were injured in a drunk driving crash, you may be able to prove that the driver was wholly at fault.
Driving when you are too tired to stay awake or maintain focus on the road can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. If a driver was asleep at the wheel or too tired to drive safely, they could be at fault for the accident.
Texting while driving and other instances of distracted driving usually help prove fault in a car crash. The distracted driver is often held accountable for these accidents, with their dangerous decisions being seen as the overwhelming cause of the accident.
Traffic rules are designed to prevent accidents, and if everyone follows the rules, accidents are unlikely. However, if a driver enters an intersection illegally, speeds, fails to signal, or commits another driving infraction, they may put other drivers at risk. Courts can look at violations as proof that the driver did something wrong. If both drivers broke the law and caused the accident, the case may look to other factors to determine who was more at fault.
What if Both Drivers Are “At-Fault” for a Car Accident?
In the ideal world, one driver would be completely innocent and the other driver would be clearly at fault. In reality, many accidents occur when both drivers are doing something wrong. Many drivers speed or fail to use their turn signals, but do these errors mean that they are at fault for the crash? Can a partly at-fault driver still recover compensation for the crash?
In some cases, the fact that you did something wrong does not block you from claiming compensation or accusing another driver of being more at fault for an accident. Arkansas has a “modified comparative fault” rule in its auto accident cases. This allows the judge or jury to assign blame to each party involved in the crash, and you only lose the case if you are 50% at-fault or more.
This means that the jury may consider your speeding or failing to signal a contributing cause of the crash, but if the other driver was the overwhelming cause of the crash, you can still sue them and recover damages. However, the damages you receive might be reduced based on your share of the fault. A totally innocent driver may recover 100% of the damages from the at-fault driver, but if the jury finds you 5% liable, for example, you will recover 95% of the damages instead.
Your attorney can help frame your case in a way that puts the most blame on the other drivers and help defend you from counterclaims and defenses that try to shift the blame to you. This will help you not only win your case but also potentially maximize your damages.
Fayetteville, AR Car Accident Lawyer Offering Free Case Consultations
If you were injured in a car crash or your loved one was killed in a car accident, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law. Our Fayetteville personal injury lawyer may be able to take your claim to court and fight to get you the compensation you deserve by proving the other driver or drivers were at fault for your crash. To schedule a free legal consultation on your case, call Ken Kieklak at (479) 251-7767.
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