Joplin auto accident attorney

For a Joplin auto accident attorney to help you recover for injuries in an auto accident, the first step is to determine who is at fault. Liability must first be established by determining who caused the accident or whose negligence resulted in your injuries. If the auto accident was serious and your injuries were severe, then there may be substantial repair costs and medical expenses.

The person or persons determined to be at fault are the ones who will be held responsible for compensating the victim for their damages. Here are six important facts you should know about determining liability in an auto accident.

Fact No. 1 – Why Determining Liability is So Crucial

The issue of fault is the most important component of a lawsuit. If you cannot determine the appropriate person to sue you will be unable to file a lawsuit. If more than one party is accused of liability, determining who is at fault requires identifying the levels of fault. In other words, each party will only be responsible for the amount of damages that can be attributed to his or her actions. Your Joplin auto accident attorney can review your case and help you determine who the appropriate defendants should be.

Fact No. 2 – You Need to Investigate and Gather Evidence to Prove Fault

Proving fault in the legal context involves discovering and offering evidence.  The evidence you will typically need to gather in an auto accident will include photos of the accident scene and injuries, eyewitness testimony and police reports. Depending on the applicable legal standard in your state, fault can be established either proven beyond any reasonable doubt or through clear and convincing evidence.  Either way, the standard of proof is relatively low as the allegations of fault do not have to be indisputable.

Fact No. 3 –Auto Accidents Other Than Rear-End Accidents Are More Difficult

When an auto accident is a rear-end accident, the person at the back end of the accident is typically considered responsible for all resulting collisions in front.  This is usually true in cases where multiple cars are involved.  However, each car involved could be liable to some degree, for example, when someone is trailing too close behind the car in front of them.

Auto Accidents that are not rear-end collisions are often more difficult to determine.  In those cases, the laws of the state where the accident occurred should be the starting point for determining liability.  When intersections are involved, the status of the traffic lights at the time is usually key.  Drivers who were found to be speeding at the time of the accident are more likely to be responsible or at least have some liability.

Fact No. 4 – Individuals Other than the Driver May Be Liable

If you have been injured in an auto accident, determining who is responsible for your injuries can be complicated, but if you start with these common defendants, you are more likely to consider everyone who could possibly be liable:

  • the driver of the car
  • the owner of the car
  • the person or company that leased the car from the owner
  • the manufacturer of the car, tires, or other equipment that may have caused the accident, or made it more severe

Consulting with a Joplin auto accident attorney who is experienced in car accident cases is the best decision to make.

Fact No. 5 – Family Members May Be Responsible for Your Accident

Clients often wonder what to do when a family member may be at fault for an auto accident.  The question is typically whether they can sue a relative. 

However, the real question is whether there will be insurance coverage for the claim.  First, there is no rule that you cannot sue a family member for their involvement in a car accident.  Yet, if there is no insurance coverage, the lawsuit will likely not be valuable enough to file.  It is very common for auto insurance policies to include an exclusion for family members or members of the same household.  On the other hand, some state courts find these exclusions invalid. If this situation applies to you, discuss your options with a Joplin auto accident attorney.

Fact No. 6 – Handling a Hit and Run Accident Can Be a Challenge

Victims of hit and run car accidents can suffer injuries, property damage, or both.  You may be side-swiped on the road and the driver speeds off, or you may find your car in the parking lot with a huge, unexplained dent.  What your car accident lawyer will tell you is, your own insurance coverage will likely have to compensate you for your damages.

Basically, the purpose of car insurance is to cover you if you become liable for the injuries or damages of someone else, following an auto accident.  However, in a hit and run, you don’t know who the responsible party is, much less their automobile insurance information.  In that case, your own insurance will typically be your only source of compensation. If you have questions about coverage let our Joplin auto accident attorney help.
If you have questions regarding auto accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

Author Photo

Wesley Cottrell

Wes Cottrell earned his B.A. from Pittsburg State University in 1981 and his J.D. from the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas in 1985. He was admitted to practice law in Kansas in 1986, in Missouri in 1987, in Arkansas in 1989, and Oklahoma in 1993. He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.

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