Who is at Fault if Someone Pulls Out in Front of You?
We know every driver should always maintain control of their vehicle. This begs the question: What happens when someone pulls out in front of a driver, that driver strikes their vehicle, and potentially they strike yet another vehicle? This type of accident can confuse everyone involved.
Law enforcement officers may come to the scene, but remember, they were not there when the accident occurred, so they can only go by what they see when they arrive on the scene. They will also take statements from every driver involved in the accident and may take statements from others who may have witnessed the accident. Remember, no one who witnessed the accident had the same vantage point as the drivers involved.
Potential Problems When Someone Pulls Out in Front of You
One of the biggest challenges a car accident victim will face when a driver pulls out in front of another driver is who is to blame for the accident. Sometimes this depends on the exact nature of the accident. Let’s explore some possible scenarios and discuss who may be at fault in each instance.
Driver one backs out of a driveway and fails to look to both sides of the road. Driver one backs into driver two, who is traveling safely at or slightly below the posted speed limit.
Fault Assignment: Driver one is at fault for this accident in nearly all cases because they failed to watch the road before backing out of their driveway.
Who Pays: Driver one would be considered negligent in nearly all cases and responsible for any damage or injuries sustained in the accident.
Whenever there is doubt about who bears liability for an accident, seek guidance from an accident attorney. Drivers involved in an accident should use caution when speaking with law enforcement to ensure they do not inadvertently accept any liability for the accident.
Driver one is backing out of a parking spot in a garage. Driver two is pulling into the garage and looking for a parking spot. Driver three is navigating the parking garage to the exit. Driver one strikes driver two; driver two strikes driver three.
Fault Assignment: In this case, drivers one and two bear liability for the accident. The reason for this is both drivers were acting negligently. Driver one should have checked to see if anyone was coming before backing out, and driver two should have paid attention to other vehicles in the parking lot.
Who Pays: In this scenario, drivers one and two may bear liability for the injuries and damages suffered by driver three. However, driver one may also be partially liable for the damages and injury suffered by driver two.
A three-car accident can confuse everyone involved. Each involved party should seek legal advice regarding the accident and ensure they have copies of the accident report when meeting with a lawyer. Understanding of California’s right of way rules may vary among drivers, but a legal team can help ensure the victim is not paying for damages caused by another driver’s negligence.
Driver one is speeding through an intersection, going straight to get through an intersection before the light changes from amber to red. Driver one does not make it through the intersection before the light changes to red. Driver two is making a legal right turn on red. Driver three is proceeding straight through the intersection on a green light. Driver two is struck by driver three and suffers a serious injury.
Fault Assignment: In this instance, drivers one, two, and three may share fault. While drivers two and three were both making legal moves, the obligation to remain in control of their vehicles and verify that it was safe to make those moves before doing so. Driver one should have proceeded with caution versus speeding through the intersection.
Who Pays: Depending on how the investigation of this accident proceeds, all three drivers may wind up sharing in the costs of injuries and damage caused in this accident. If there is video surveillance in the form of nearby security or roadway cameras, it may be possible to determine which driver should have been proceeding.
Determining liability in a multiple vehicle accident can be confusing. Each driver may point the finger at the other for failing to notice the other. When such as accident injures someone, they should use caution when speaking with the other drivers and law enforcement. The others could see this as taking responsibility for the accident. While working with skilled California car accident lawyers, injured drivers can focus on their recovery and allow their legal team to handle the complicated claims process.
Liability Following a Car Accident in California
Once a car accident victim has sought medical care, they must notify their insurance company of the accident. An insurance adjuster will contact you once the claim opens.
- Adjusters are not friends – Whenever an accident victim speaks with an insurance adjuster, they are speaking to an insurance company employee. Their role is primarily to help the insurer determine how little they will have to pay out on a claim. Minimizing injuries, admitting partial responsibility, or providing a recorded statement should be avoided at all costs.
- Adjusters will attempt to trap a victim – What may seem like an innocent question like “how are you feeling” could be a trap for a car accident victim. Responding to this question with “great” or “really good” could indicate the victim’s injury is not as serious as they have said it was. Adjusters are adept at asking the same question multiple times to see if they can obtain contradictory answers.
- Adjusters will attempt to dissuade a victim from legal advice – An insurance adjuster is likely to recommend a victim refrain from hiring an attorney. This is because most of the time, victims who hire legal counsel following a California accident will fare better at settlement time than those who attempt to negotiate settlements on their own.
Every driver in California must carry minimum auto insurance. Unfortunately, victims often learn these minimums barely cover their injuries. When a car accident involves more than two vehicles, it may also be possible to file a claim with multiple insurers, which means dealing with multiple adjusters.
Types of Compensation Victims of Accidents May Claim
After an accident in California, you may recover:
- Current and future medical bills – Depending on the severity of a victim’s injuries after a car accident, medical bills could mount up quickly. Most victims will have some medical coverage, but this does not mean they will not have out-of-pocket costs. Future medical bills could be insurmountable for victims who are seriously injured and unable to return to work.
- Current and future lost wages – Recovery times vary depending on the severity of injuries. Some victims may be out of work for only a couple of weeks, while others could be facing months-long incapacity. Some may never be able to return to earning a living.
- Non-economic losses – You may include emotional stress, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-economic losses in some insurance claims.
Every auto accident victim should discuss their specific case with an attorney who understands the claims process as well as California statutes. Victims should also be aware that hiring a lawyer makes sense because insurance companies will be obtaining legal advice regarding each claim they process.
Having an attorney helps level the playing field between a big insurer and a car accident victim. Insurers have no obligation to educate an accident victim. They also are conscious of the frustration and financial impact of an injury.
Fault When Someone Pulls out in Front of You
While an insurance company may tell a victim that hiring a lawyer is unnecessary, that is to help them convince a victim to take a lesser settlement. Insurers understand that victims of car accidents are unlikely to have a deep understanding of the law as it pertains to their rights to seek compensation for an injury they suffered when someone else was at fault for an accident.
When a car accident victim is uncertain about who may be liable, they may benefit more by hiring an attorney. Only a thorough investigation can determine fault. In cases when one driver pulls out in front of another, law enforcement may get it wrong because they were not there to witness the accident personally.
Victims Must Prove Liability After an Accident
In cases where fault for an accident is uncertain, you must take certain steps before filing an insurance claim. Some of these directly relate to the accident, while others relate directly to the victim.
Before filing an insurance claim, you need a direct way to prove:
- The liable person owed the victim a duty of care
- The liable person breached the duty of care
- The breach of the duty of care caused the victim harm
- The victim’s harm resulted in a financial loss
Proving someone owed someone else a duty of care when it comes to car accidents is usually straightforward. Anyone operating a motor vehicle owes other drivers and others sharing the roadway a duty of care.
When a person is speeding, ignoring traffic signals, or driving distracted, they have breached the duty of care owed to others.
When someone suffers an injury and damage to their vehicle, repair receipts, medical bills, and medical records can show the harm caused by the breach.
Any out-of-pocket expenses a victim has suffered can show that there was a financial loss directly related to the breach of duty.
The victim’s physical recovery is also a factor in insurance claims. To understand the extent of a victim’s losses, they must first have reached what is known as maximum medical recovery. This is when a doctor determines the victim will not improve regardless of any further medical procedures or treatment.
Because of these complexities, you need an attorney to handle your insurance claim. Additionally, when one driver pulls in front of another driver, the liability may not be as clear as it would be if a driver sideswiped a car in the next lane. The claims process could be more complicated if multiple vehicles are in an accident.
California Car Accident Lawyers Can Make a Difference
When someone is in an accident, they may feel concerned about the high cost of hiring legal help.
A free consultation can help put those fears to rest because most personal injury law firms will accept cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning the victim pays nothing for the attorney’s services unless they recover compensation.
Before speaking with an insurance adjuster and jeopardizing their claim, an accident victim should contact an experienced California car accident lawyer to learn more about the claims process and what they should avoid.