Determining Who to Sue After a Car Accident
If you were involved in a serious car accident, you may be feeling overwhelmed with your physical recovery. But as the medical bills stack up and your lost wages accrue, your thoughts may turn to suing the at-fault party. Personal injury lawsuits seek to recover damages from the at-fault party. In some cases, however, there may be more than one party who could be held responsible for the accident. If handled by a skilled personal injury lawyer, this scenario can actually be beneficial to the injured party or parties because it can make it easier to recover the full compensation the victims deserve. Remember that in crashes with multiple passengers who suffered catastrophic injuries, one insurance policy may not be enough to provide reasonable settlements for all the victims.
Determining who to sue after a car accident
If you were hit by another driver, then you may assume that the other driver is the at-fault party and that they are the ones to sue. It is true that in most cases, a driver who made an unsafe driving decision and caused a car accident will be held responsible under a theory of ordinary negligence. This means that the driver didn’t meet their duty of care to other drivers by failing to take precautions that a reasonable driver would have made under similar circumstances. For example, a reasonable driver stops at a red light. If you were hit by a driver who ran a red light then they failed to meet their duty of care and could be sued for your injuries.
Here is a look at the other parties who may be sued for a car accident:
The driver’s employer – if an employee causes an accident while they are on the job, it is possible to sue their employer under the theory of vicarious liability, even if the employer did not act negligently. There are other situations where the employer was negligent and could be sued under other theories. For example, if the company knowingly hired a delivery driver with multiple tickets for reckless driving, they may be liable under the theory of negligent hiring.
The vehicle owner – in some cases, car crashes happen in a vehicle driven by someone who is not the owner. This can happen when a child borrows their parent’s car, for example. Liability for the vehicle owner comes into play when the owner knowingly loaned their car to a person that they knew to be untrustworthy, such as someone caught drinking and driving several times recently. The theory used for suing the vehicle owner for an accident caused by another driver is negligent entrustment.
The vehicle manufacturer – In some cases, a defective car or car part is the cause of the accident. For example, if a vehicle was knowingly manufactured with faulty brakes, the manufacturer may be held responsible in a product liability claim.
A private property owner – Rarely, a car crash is caused because a property owner failed to keep their property in safe condition, to warn visitors about the unsafe condition, and/or to fix an unsafe condition in a timely manner. If a car accident was caused because of a dangerous situation that the property owner knew about and failed to fix, then they may be sued in a premises liability claim.
A government entity or contractor – if your accident was caused by unmarked poor road conditions, then the injured party may be able to sue the government or whoever is responsible for maintaining or repairing the road negligently. Note that these claims are more complicated and usually have a shorter window than regular personal injury claims.
Regardless of who could be liable for your injuries, most settlements are recovered through the at-fault party’s insurance carrier.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!