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When Could a Third Party be Held Liable for Damages from a Car Crash?

legal documents on civil liability on tableFor the most part, car accident cases involve a victim and an at-fault driver. In Pennsylvania, victims first seek compensation from their own insurance company. If their damages exceed the value of their policy, they may seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.

However, sometimes car accidents involve more than two parties. There may be third parties who bear some percentage of responsibility for what happened. Even if they do not bear the majority of fault for the crash, they still played some role in causing it.

You may be thinking third parties are other drivers, and there are certainly cases involving more than two drivers. However, there may also be cases involving third parties who were not there at the time of the crash, such as product manufacturers, government entities, employers, and bars or restaurants, just to name a few.

Below, our trusted attorneys discuss third-party liability for a car accident and how it impacts the pursuit of compensation for damages.

Third Parties That May be Involved in Car Accident Cases

Even though you may have reason to believe a third party bears some amount of liability for your claim, establishing liability can be complicated. You should seek help from a licensed attorney who knows how to build a case against a third party that may be involved in a car accident case.

These are some of the third parties that could be found partially liable for a car crash victim’s damages:

Other Drivers

In a multi-car accident, two or three drivers could be partially to blame for your damages. For example, if you were rear-ended in a chain-reaction crash, but you were the last car to be hit, the drivers in the vehicles behind yours could be partially at fault. 

Multi-car accidents often occur on the interstate as the speed limits are much higher. Many drivers are speeding, so a mistake by one could lead to a chain reaction that brings in other cars. Even though one driver started the chain reaction, other drivers in the chain may have been negligent, such as by being distracted, not staying in their lane or speeding.  

Your lawyer will need to do a comprehensive investigation to uncover what happened and how negligence may have contributed to the crash.

Passengers

There are rare situations when passengers contribute to crashes. For example, maybe a passenger grabbed the wheel or caused the driver to lose control. Maybe a passenger distracted the driver with a smartphone. The driver and the passenger may be at fault for the crash.

Employers

If you were hit by someone driving a company vehicle, or someone driving a personal vehicle during working hours while performing job duties, the driver’s employer may bear fault. The employer may say the driver was an independent contractor. However, sometimes employees are misclassified because companies are trying to avoid accountability for situations like car accidents. If you were hit by an Uber driver or food delivery driver, there may be a company insurance policy you can file a claim against.

It is important to note the employer likely does not have any liability if the driver was doing things unrelated to his or her job, such as running a personal errand.

Employers are often liable for commercial truck crashes, in addition to the driver. Commercial truck crash cases often involve other third parties, such as cargo-loading companies, the manufacturer of the truck, maintenance companies, and/or the owner of the truck.

Government Entities

When road conditions lead to a crash, the government entity responsible for maintaining a road could potentially be liable for damages. It is possible the government entity failed in its legal obligation to make sure the road was safe for drivers. Maybe there were too many potholes or line-of-sight obstructions.

Government entities could also be at fault if the vehicle that initiated the collision was a government vehicle, such as a city bus or vehicle driven by a government employee.

Auto Repair Shops

Sometimes a driver was negligent, but a mechanical failure or other problem with the vehicle contributed to the crash. The issue with the vehicle may have been caused by poor work done by a repair shop. Maybe the mechanic forgot to do something or failed to notice a problem he or she should have noticed. Sometimes mechanics install the wrong part or damage a vehicle while working on it, such that it makes the car dangerous to drive.

It is important to note that maintenance issues may be the fault of the driver. Sometimes drivers fail to conduct regular maintenance on their vehicle, and it results in a crash. Repair shops cannot be blamed if the driver did not take the car in to get worked on.

Product Manufacturers

Failing brakes and defective tires are just a few examples of car parts that may contribute to a crash. While some parts need to be replaced because of normal wear and tear, others may simply be defective. Maybe there is a design defect or there was a problem during manufacturing that made the product unsafe.

If a defective part contributed to the crash, the manufacturer or others in the supply chain could potentially be liable for the victim’s damages. However, if the driver knew about a defective part, such as a part that had been recalled, and he or she chose not to deal with it, the manufacturer may not be liable.

Bars/Restaurants

If you were injured in a drunk driving crash, it is possible the driver was overserved at a bar or restaurant before getting behind the wheel. If your lawyer can prove the establishment served the driver when he or she was visibly intoxicated and this directly caused your injuries and damages, the establishment may bear fault for your damages.

Read this blog about the benefits of hiring a Harrisburg-based car accident lawyer after a DUI crash.

Unsure How to File a Car Crash Claim? Call Schmidt Kramer Today

You do not need to go through the legal process on your own. Crash victims have the option of hiring an experienced attorney to manage the process on their behalf. At Schmidt Kramer, legal assistance comes with no upfront fee. That means there is no risk in contacting our firm to learn more about how we may be able to help you.

We have been recovering compensation for crash victims for more than three decades and have the resources to take on a wide variety of cases.

Call today to learn more about our services. Phone: (717) 888-8888.