The most crucial issue in any vehicle accident is determining liability. The reason liability is so important is the liable party will be the one who needs to compensate the other party involved for damages. Investigating the scene and determining who is liable is the basis of every personal injury case. You think you know who the negligent party is but come to find out; there were multiple parties responsible. After a collision, contact an experienced Philadelphia car accident attorney to protect your rights and hold the correct party responsible.
Is the vehicle owner or the driver liable?
It is not uncommon to see different drivers share one vehicle. When two drivers share a car, they must be listed on the insurance. When an accident happens, and the driver does not own the vehicle they are driving, liability can be complicated. The driver, vehicle owner, or both parties can be held responsible depending on the circumstances.
Two legal principles address liability for another person’s actions: negligent entrustment and vicarious liability. An employer is typically liable in vicarious liability. The employer is responsible for their employee and their actions on the road. In these cases, accident victims can file a claim against the employee and employer. Vicarious liability works in this manner in 49 states. The only exception is Florida which applies vicarious liability to all drivers and vehicles.
Negligent entrustment applies to cases where the vehicle owner allowed a negligent driver to use their vehicle. The owner was aware of the driver’s history and still allowed them to use their car, which resulted in a collision. The vehicle owner will be liable for damages from the accident.
It is a foreign concept to think that a passenger can be liable for a car accident. There are rare occurrences where a passenger is the cause of a driver’s reckless driving. If a passenger is deemed responsible for the crash, legal action is taken against them for compensation.
As we said, it is rare to hold a passenger liable, but it is not impossible. Some examples of why a passenger can be held responsible include:
- Encouraging the driver to drive at an excessive speed
- Encouraging general recklessness
- Enocursiang driving on sidewalks
- A passenger grabbing the steering wheel
- A passenger switches gears unbeknownst to the driver
A driver will be the primary responsible party and the passenger a secondary. Proving liability is challenging and can be more so when proving a passenger is also liable.
What about multi-vehicle collisions
One type of accident that raises a lot of questions is multi-vehicle accidents. There can be multiple parties who can be held liable in these crashes. The primary responsible party is the first person to rear-end someone during a pile-up. The true determiner is who caused the accident, which is not always the first rear-ender. You need to retain a lawyer immediately.
Fault and liability
A personal injury claim is contingent on who was at fault. Pennsylvania is a modified comparative fault state. This rule means a person can only file a claim if they are less than 50 percent responsible for the accident. If the fault is split down the middle, you may be ineligible for compensation.
Accident victims must file a claim within two years of the date of the accident. If you do not, your claim can be denied. The one exception is if the accident resulted in a death. In that case, a personal representative can file a wrongful death claim beginning on the date of the death.
You must also consider no-fault car insurance. The premise of this policy is an insurer chooses no-fault coverage and will therefore need to file using their insurance policy before they can file against the other driver. A personal injury claim is only allowed in particular circumstances under this premise. The fault does not affect benefits.
Can an attorney help with liability in a Philadelphia car accident?
Determining liability and holding negligent parties responsible is a job for Kwartler Manus, LLC. You must focus on healing after a collision, not on who is liable. Call us at (267) 457-5570 to schedule a consultation.