There is a theory of law that many accident victims are unaware of, but should know about.
Known as predetermined fault, or predetermined negligence, this theory of law applies when a driver’s actions are glaringly negligent; and there is no way to argue against it. In situations such as this, Phoenix personal injury lawyers are still needed to help file a claim and seek compensation, but the task will be simpler than a case that does not have predetermined fault.
In a predetermined fault case, the insurance company is less likely to argue, but they will still negotiate to protect their bottom line. Therefore, victims need attorneys to ensure they receive a fair settlement; even if the insurer is willing to settle.
The Circumstances That Lead to Predetermined Fault in an Accident
Not all accident cases involve predetermining fault. In fact, these cases are rare. However, there are instances where predetermined negligence is likely, such as:
The Defendant was Drunk:
If the driver responsible for the accident was obviously drunk, or they were arrested at the scene for intoxication, the evidence is strong enough to establish their negligence without further investigation. All the victim would need is the arrest record to establish the negligence.
Crossing Lanes of Traffic:
When a vehicle is driving recklessly, such as cutting across multiple lanes of traffic on the highway, they are likely to have predetermined fault. It is illegal to drive recklessly and crossing multiple lanes of traffic violates ARS 28-775.
Driving on a Suspended License:
If the accident is caused by a driver with a revoked or suspended driver’s license, that driver is likely to be predetermined at fault, because they are already violating ARS 28-3473, which makes it illegal to operate a vehicle without a valid driver’s license. If the driver’s license was revoked for speeding, past DUIs, or reckless driving, that may help the plaintiff’s case further, but does not necessarily mean the driver was guilty of performing similar acts at the time of the crash.
Rear-End Collisions and Predetermined Fault
In a rear-end collision, some may assume that the predetermined fault lands on the tailing vehicle. While this is true in the majority of cases, there are instances where the leading car is the party at fault.
If the trailing vehicle did not have a reasonable distance between themselves and the other vehicle, however, they may be considered liable for the accident. The way the “reasonable” distance is measured is based on two facts:
1. The driver tailing another vehicle needs enough space based on the speed, such as one car length per 10 miles per hour.
2. The driver should be far enough away so that if the vehicle in front of them suddenly stops, they have enough space to not rear-end that vehicle.
Does Predetermined Fault Guarantee Liability?
While predetermined fault may help Phoenix personal injury lawyers prove their case, predetermined fault does not automatically constitute liability. It is still the burden of the plaintiff to establish that liability occurred. Also, the victim’s contribution could be assessed.
Under contributory negligence laws, the plaintiff may be partially at-fault for the accident; therefore, they could have a reduced settlement. If they are considered more than half at fault, then they may not be able to collect in court for their injury claim.
All predetermined fault establishes is that one driver was for sure negligent. However, police may cite both drivers for violating traffic laws.
For example, one driver is leading but has broken brake lights. Another driver is following too closely. When the leading car brakes suddenly, the tailing vehicle does not see lights; therefore, they do not stop in time. While the tailing vehicle rear-ended the other and should have had adequate distance to not collide with the lead vehicle, the lead vehicle is also at fault because they had broken brake lights.
Proving Predetermined Fault
The burden of proving predetermined fault is on the plaintiff. This may require Phoenix personal injury lawyers pulling accident records and citations, arrest records, or hiring an expert to testify. When there is an arrest record or traffic citation, it is almost impossible for the at-fault driver to mount a viable defense and in most cases, their insurance company will offer a settlement.
Insurance claims adjusters know that if they do not settle a claim, they may spend more in court. Therefore, most cases of predetermined fault will settle out of court so that both sides may avoid the costs associated with going to trial.
Contacting Phoenix Personal Injury Lawyers
Those injured in a motor vehicle accident cannot assume that predetermined fault means the insurance company will give them whatever settlement they wish.
Instead, they need an attorney to calculate the costs and negotiate with claims adjusters to ensure victims receive the compensation they deserve for their injuries and losses.
For those injured in an accident, whether predetermined fault is present or not, schedule a no obligation consultation with the team at Tobler Law, P.C. by calling 480-898-9700 or request more information online.