How is liability determined in an accident?

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How is liability determined in an accident?

Traveling on an interstate highway, Driver 1, made an abrupt stop and was turning into an emergency vehicle turnaround. Vehicle in front of Driver #2 swerved and missed vehicle. Driver 2 was not able to stop and struck driver 1. Driver 1 was cited for “Unlawful Stopping”.

Asked on May 17, 2011 under Accident Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no hard-and-fast rule; liability depends on fault, which depends in negligence, or carelessness, which in turn depends on the specific situation--that is, under those conditions, where either or both drivers not being as careful as they should (as careful as the hypothetical average "reasonable driver" would be)? It is possible for both drivers to be negligent, in which case, in the event of a lawsuit, the amount that the suing plaintiff could recover in compensation would typically be reduced to reflect his or her own negligence--or in more extreme cases of plaintiff negligence, the plaintiff may even be unable to recover at all. For example, in the situation you descrive, Driver 1 may be at fault for "unlawful stopping"--but Driver 2 could also be negligent and at fault if he or she was following too closely for the conditions and speed (not enough room to brake safely).


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