Determining who is at fault after a car accident can be problematic.
Missouri is an at-fault state when it comes to automobile accidents. That means that when an accident occurs, one driver is typically considered to be at fault. When only two cars are involved in an accident, figuring out who is at fault is usually not that difficult. But there are times when there are multiple drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, or even when both drivers might be found partially responsible, which can make defining fault for liability purposes more problematic.
The simplest way to determine who is at fault in an accident is usually done by using common law theory. Common law theory uses four levels to figure out who is at fault and liable to pay for an auto accident. Those four levels are:
- Wanton conduct or recklessness
- Strict liability
- Intentional misconduct
Negligence is a theory that states that either someone did something wrong that was responsible for the accident, or that they failed to do something that directly caused the accident. When who is at fault is determined by negligence, there is no intent ascribed. The person did not intend for the accident to happen, but the accident happened because of their actions.
Wanton conduct or recklessness is different from negligence. Wanton conduct or recklessness refers to something that someone did willfully to cause an accident. Excessive speeding or driving while under the influence are both wanton or reckless actions that would lead to someone being found at fault. It is driving with disregard to the safety of others on the road.
Cases where there is intentional misconduct fall under a classification called “tort” lawsuits. This is when someone intentionally commits a tort or crime, and the result is an automobile accident. These types of negligence cases make someone at fault because they set out with the intent to hurt or harm someone. Strict liability is when someone can be held at fault even when they have done nothing wrong. Cases when an automobile is carrying hazardous chemicals, or accidents where defective products are to blame, fall under the strict liability laws of being found at-fault.
When the cause of an accident is straightforward, like someone was drinking and driving, who is at fault is usually easy to determine. But in other cases, sorting through the events of an accident to find out who is at fault and therefore responsible might not always be so clear-cut. That is why if you are in an auto accident in St. Louis, it is imperative that you hire a St. Louis auto accident attorney to help you with your injuries and damages. Even if you think that the case is clear, many things can muddle liability quickly.
Contact The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C.
To ensure that you receive all that you are entitled to when in an auto accident, it is important that you hire a professional who will have your best interests at heart. To avoid a lawsuit, contact The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. immediately after your accident and let us handle the complexities of the case while you focus on healing and getting back out on the road.