One of the most important parts of a personal injury lawsuit from a car accident is finding out who was really at fault. Once fault has been determined, liability can be apportioned and victims can recover for their injuries.
However, as a recent car crash in St. Joseph showcases, determining fault is not always an easy problem that can be determined with common sense.
St. Joseph Car Accident Highlights Problems of Finding Fault
According to the initial reports, one car was traveling on the road when it suddenly slammed on its brakes. The Mazda behind it swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid rear-ending it. Unfortunately, a Buick was in the oncoming lane at that precise time, and slammed head-on into the Mazda.
Four people were hurt. Three of them, thankfully, were treated at the scene and released. The fourth went to the hospital with only minor injuries.
Difficulties in Finding Fault in Car Crashes
In this case, it might seem like common sense to blame the crash on the car that hit the brakes. After all, their poor driving led the driver of the Mazda to veer into oncoming traffic to avoid a crash.
However, based on these initial reports, there are two reasons to pin liability on the Mazda.
First, if the Mazda had to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid the braking car in front of it, then the driver of the Mazda was either following too closely or was not paying attention when the car in front hit the brakes. In either case, the Mazda driver’s negligence would be what caused the crash, not the other driver’s hitting the brakes.
Second, all drivers have a legal obligation to drive reasonably safely. In this case, the driver of the Mazda seems to have had a crucial decision to make: Either a relatively minor rear-end collision with the car that hit the brakes in front of it, or a potentially severe head-on crash with the Buick. While swerving to avoid the crash is the common reaction, it is also not the reasonably safe thing to do, in this situation.
A Caveat About Initial Reports
Of course, everything you just read is based on the initial reports of the crash. Without deeper investigation—including the intensive questioning of eyewitnesses and the scrutinizing of police reports that personal injury attorneys regularly do—the truth of what actually happened may still be hidden. If any one of these initially-reported facts is wrong, it can drastically change who was ultimately at fault in this case.
St. Joseph Personal Injury Attorney at the Smith Law Office
If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car accident in St. Joseph, you need legal help to make sure you get the compensation you need and deserve. Call the personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office at (816) 875-9373 or contact us online.