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Cause and Liability in a San Bernardino Car Accident

Who is responsible for causing auto accidents?

Cause and liability are two key issues in a San Bernardino car accident case. This is because California utilizes a fault-based system when it comes to auto accident injuries, meaning the party that caused the collision can be held legally responsible for the injured party's expenses and losses. The vast majority of these cases are paid by the responsible drivers' auto insurance policies, which are in place for this specific purpose. There are other parties that can be held liable and other potential sources of compensation, however, which we will consider in this portion of our website.

In its simplest explanation by Encarta Dictionary, cause is a person or thing that "makes something happen or exist." It may also be described as a person or thing that is responsible for something that occurs. A car accident may have one or more causes. For example, Bob may run a red light and strike Sally's car. You could say the cause of the accident was the red light violation, but we can look further into this. Perhaps Bob was checking his email on his phone as he approached the red light, so he did not see that it was red until it was too late. This cellphone use could therefore be the true cause of the crash.

Cause directly impacts liability, which is defined as a legal responsibility for something, usually costs or damages. Once the primary cause of a car accident is determined, usually through witness accounts, physical evidence and accident reconstruction, we can determine liability. In the example above, Bob would be responsible for causing the accident and would therefore be liable for Sally's medical expenses and other losses, expenses or injuries she experienced as a result of the crash. Bob's auto insurance policy would likely pay for both Bob's and Sally's injuries and damage to their vehicles.

Liability does not always fall on a driver's shoulders. There are other parties that could be held responsible for causing car accidents, such as:

  • Auto manufacturers, dealerships or auto part retailers for defective or poorly designed vehicles or vehicle parts.
  • Auto manufacturers for vehicles that are not crashworthy, meaning they do not properly protect occupants in the event of a collision.
  • City or county governments for poorly designed or maintained roadways and traffic signals.
  • Trucking companies, distributors or shipping companies for violating state or federal regulations pertaining to commercial vehicles, cargo and drivers.
  • Auto mechanics or repair shops for shoddy work in repairing vehicles or performing routine maintenance, which causes a vehicle or part to malfunction.

There are also scenarios where more than one party may be to blame for causing an accident. Under the principle of comparative negligence, blame could fall on the shoulders of both the defendant (allegedly at-fault driver) and plaintiff (injured party). The party with the majority of fault would be considered liable. If circumstances led to Sally being considered 20% at fault in the example above, for instance, Bob would still be liable but only for 80% of Sally's damages (his percentage of fault). If Sally had pursued $100,000 in damages, Bob would pay $80,000 and Sally would be responsible for the remaining $20,000.

San Bernardino Car Accident Attorney

Trying to determine cause and prove liability in a car accident claim can be an extremely difficult process, requiring legal knowledge, experience and resources. At Pacific Attorney Group, we have all the qualities you need in your San Bernardino personal injury firm. If you would like to find out how we can help with your claim, please call for a free consultation and case review. We will be happy to see how we can help you. Contact a San Bernardino car accident attorney today to get started.


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