Person filling out a personal injury accident statement

Determining Liability in a Personal Injury Accident

Most personal injury accidents occur for one reason, and one reason alone: Someone was careless and/or negligent, causing legal harm to another person or property (often referred to as “liability”).

When an accident does occur, fault lies with the person or party who was less careful than the other. And the party at fault must be held accountable and pay for at least a portion of the damages suffered by the more careful person or party.

For example, if a distracted or drunk driver runs a clearly marked stop sign and hits your car hurting your vehicle and/or inflicting bodily harm—chances are, proof can be found to show negligence falls on the careless driver; and as the responsible party, they should repay you for potential physical or property-related damages. 


Determining fault

Collecting evidence is an important way to help determine who the primary responsible party is in an accident. 

If you are in a safe position to do so, immediately after the accident, take photos of any hazards that caused your injury. Documenting physical harm you’ve endured as soon as possible (after tending to your physical well-being) will greatly help your case.

Did your injury occur on a public street, or in a parking lot, shop, or restaurant? Did you involve law enforcement, after the accident? If so, chances are there’s security, dash camera, or video footage that may have captured your accident. Securing those files can help strengthen your case, too.


Potentially responsible parties

Unfortunately, when there’s an accident, the responsible party (for example, an insurance company, product or drug manufacturer, property owner, etc.) will do everything they can to prove that you may have been in some way at fault or negligent.

Be prepared to have those parties look into everything and anything you may have done to cause the accident—or contribute to the action. 

When enlisting a personal injury lawyer to help review your case, he or she will work with you to see if there are any ways in which you might be found even slightly at fault.

As your lawyer works with you to examine any possible negative impacts to your case, they’ll have many questions for your consideration. Some examples they’ll want to discuss with you include:

  • Were you somewhere you should have not been, or engaged in activity that led to the accident’s occurrence? 
  • Is there any way the party who caused the accident may be seen as not having a “duty” to protect you against injury or harm?
  • Did the accident occur while you were working for someone else? (If so, an employer may be held responsible for the accident.)
  • Was the injury caused by a defective product; and could the manufacturer and/or seller have been aware of the defect? 


Understanding comparative vs. contributory negligence laws 

Another important note to consider: Personal injury law in North Carolina follows the doctrine of contributory negligence, which bars recovery by the injured party, even if they're just partially at fault. 

In comparison, most other states follow the doctrine of comparable negligence, which means the amount of damages is reduced in proportion to the injured party’s degree of fault.

So, again, if an insurance company or other potentially responsible party can prove you may have contributed to an accident, you may be prevented from receiving any compensation for your injuries. 

That’s why it is so important to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer.


Still have questions?

Handling a personal injury claim on your own can be difficult, especially when you’re having to also balance work and family responsibilities. Our team at Wilson Williams Law is here to help. Let us handle your managing case, so you can focus on healing and caring for yourself and/or your family. 

Regardless of the magnitude of your accident, or the injuries you’ve endured, our attorneys can help guide you through the various steps involved in the personal injury claim process. Get in touch with us today

We look forward to helping with your or your loved one’s personal injury claim process.

Note: This blog is intended to be informational only and shall not be construed as legal advice.