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Determining fault and liability for an auto accident

Car accidents are a persistent problem in Orleans Parish and the United States generally. The lives of many people have been changed by car wrecks. Sometimes the effects are limited to property damage and minor injuries. Other times, however, victims may experience catastrophic effects from head injury, spinal cord injury and other kinds of injury. Regardless of the impacts, our legal system will assign fault for the accident. How is fault determined for an auto accident? How is the question of legal liability answered for injuries suffered in an accident?

For starters, if one party is determined to have violated a motor vehicle statute at around the time of an accident, it could result in that party being assigned much of the fault. For example, if one party exceeded the speed limit prior to rear-ending another vehicle, the speeder may be assigned a good deal of the blame. This finding of fault could be lessened, however, if the other driver was also committing a moving violation, such as operating without functioning brake lights. The exact finding of fault will depend on the specific facts of each case.

Another issue that can result in the assignment of fault is whether one or both of the drivers were negligent, even if neither committed a moving violation. Drivers have a duty to keep a proper lookout while driving. If a driver is distracted by a cellphone, changing the radio station or something else, it could result in a finding of liability to other parties injured by the driver's negligence.

The specific facts and law can be complex, and a great deal of evidence and law may needed to be presented to a judge, a jury or another factfinder in order for an outcome to be reached. Car accident victims in Orleans Parish have legal options and should familiarize themselves with them.

Source: FindLaw, "Fault and Liability for Motor Vehicle Accidents," accessed on March 12, 2016

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