Different Types of Car Accident Liability Claims

Rear End Car Crash

If you were injured in a car accident, it’s not only the other driver who may be at fault. When filing a car accident lawsuit, your car accident attorney is likely to consider several other possible defendants who might be held liable for the damages. Filing against the right party can increase your odds of receiving compensation.

Claims Against the Other Driver

The most obvious defendant in a car accident lawsuit is the other driver. If that driver was negligent in some way and was not driving safely at the time of the accident, he or she (and his/her insurance company) may be sued for the damage caused.

Examples of negligent driving behavior may include speeding, driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, driving while distracted, driving recklessly, driving while drowsy, or driving without a license. In some cases, more than one driver may have legal liability in an accident, particularly if it involved several vehicles.

Claims Against the Alcohol Provider

If the other driver was drunk at the time of the accident, some states allow victims to sue the person or bar that served the driver alcohol as well as the driver himself. The plaintiff must have evidence that the establishment was aware that the individual was intoxicated and allowed him to continue drinking anyway.

This sort of claim is also called a “dram shop” claim and enables third-party victims of drunken behavior to file lawsuits against the establishment, wait staff, or store clerks that sold alcohol to an intoxicated person.

Claims Against the Driver’s Employer

If the other driver was “on the job” at the time of the accident, the plaintiff may be able to file a claim against that driver’s employer. This is especially common in accidents involving commercial vehicles, like buses and big trucks.

This type of claim falls under the “vicarious liability” doctrine, which holds employers liable for the negligence committed by their employees. If a plaintiff is injured by a big truck carrying a load across the country, for instance, that plaintiff could potentially sue both the driver and the company he or she was driving for.

Claims Against the Vehicle Manufacturer or Supplier

Sometimes an accident occurs because of a faulty part or system on the vehicle itself. Some airbags in vehicles, for instance, have been found to explode upon deployment, potentially injuring occupants. In that case, the plaintiff may file a claim against the car manufacturer and potentially against the airbag manufacturer as well.

Another example would be an accident occurring in a rental vehicle. If the rental company failed to properly maintain the vehicle—perhaps the brakes were worn—that company may be held liable for the damages.

Claims Against the Government or Construction Company

If unsafe road conditions contributed to the accident, a plaintiff may be able to hold the governmental entity responsible for maintaining the road—or the construction company working on the road—liable for damages. The government may have known about the defects in the road, for example, and failed to fix them. Or the construction company may have failed to put up the appropriate signage to allow vehicles to safely pass the working area.