Who is at fault in an accident?

For the law to make someone pay when there's been an car, truck or motorcycle accident, three things are needed:

1) There has to be a rule or accepted way of doing things that wasn't followed. Lawyers and the courts call this a duty. The rules of driving are what everyone learns (or just memorizes) to get a driver's license from the OMV. Knowing and following those rules, and sticking to the accepted way of doing things, is a driver's duty. Along following the OMV rules, drivers must follow "the accepted way of doing things" (lawyers and the courts say, "use reasonable care") which basically means that while on the road, drivers must pay attention and keep control of their car, truck or motorcycle.  (See "/ Was Paying Attention" and " Control Your Car").

2) The driver who is being asked to pay made a mistake by not following the rule or the usual way of doing things. Lawyers call this a breach. While figuring out if a driver broke a OMV rule seems easy, sometimes both drivers broke the rules (that's where an attorney can help make sense of things).  Even if no rules of the road are broken, the fact that there's been an accident means one or more of the drivers didn't follow the accepted way of doing things. Once you explain what happened in your accident to an attorney, they can tell you who failed to respond or drive in the accepted way (both from their own experience trying cases, and by researching other cases).  Generally, when both drivers are at fault, the law applies the rules of comparative fault  (See " What does the Phrase "Comparative Fault" mean?" ).

3) Because of a driver's mistake, people and/or property got hurt.  Lawyers call this damage (See "Personal Injury Damages-What you're able to recover" ).  Sometimes people who are damaged in accidents claim they should be p.aid for more than the damage they got from the accident.  An example is a person who was hauling a broken chair in the back seat of their car and they claimed it got broken when they were rear-ended.  Or someone who already had missing teeth claims they lost all their teeth in the accident.  The damage claimed needs to have been the result of the accident, not something that was already broken or damaged.  The damage needs to be due to the mistake of the at-fault driver.

When people who are damaged unreasonably contributed to their injuries (for example, by not wearing their seatbelt, or taking the headrests out of their car), the courts take this into account, as not all of the damage that came out of the accident was actually a result of the accident. These three factors are what lawyers and courts look at to decide who is responsible when there is a car, truck or motorcycle accident. We encourage you to look around our website and learn more about so you better understand who may be held liable in your case.

If you have been injured in an accident and would like to discuss your legal options with an experienced Sacramento Personal Injury Attorneycontact us online or call us at 916-921-6400 or toll-free at 800-404-5400 to set up a FREE consultation.
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