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Filing a lawsuit after a car accident: who may be held liable?

Many car accident victims in California are overwhelmed after a crash and are unsure what steps to take to make sure they get the compensation they need. Generally, many accident victims find that filing a personal injury lawsuit against the parties responsible for their accident allows them to recover compensation for their accident-related medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other costs. The question is: who may be held liable? The answer often depends on who was at fault for your accident.

Determining who is liable for your accident is generally the most critical part of your case. The other driver may be liable for the accident if they acted negligently behind the wheel and their negligence partially or fully caused your accident and damages. For example, if the other driver drove too fast for conditions, ran a red light or broke another California traffic law, they may have acted negligently and may therefore be liable for your accident. Even if you were partially liable for your own accident, in California, you may still be able to pursue damages from the other driver, as long as they were also partially liable for the accident.

Your next step will be determining whether the at-fault driver has enough insurance to cover your injuries. If the insurance company refuses to pay for your expenses or pays less than you deserve, it may be possible to go after the negligent driver directly.

While the other driver is the most common party to sue, there are other parties that may also be liable for your accident. For example, if the other driver was driving someone else's vehicle at the time of the accident, the owner of the vehicle may be liable for negligently entrusting their vehicle to the negligent driver. In many accidents, the negligent driver was driving within the scope of his employment. In such cases, the driver's employer may be vicariously liable for the driver's negligence under the theory of respondeat superior.

Determining liability is not always easy. It is important that accident victims identify all responsible parties, so they can pursue the compensation they need following the crash.

Source: FindLaw, "Who Do I Sue After a Car Accident?," accessed April 16, 2018

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