What Is the Responsibility of an at-Fault Driver in a Car Accident?

Interviewer: If there is a car accident and the other driver is at fault, what sort of damages might that at-fault driver be looking at?

Injuries Sustained in a Collision Are Compensable When They Have Valuation 

Daniel Hoarfrost: When someone is negligent, and causes injury to a claiming party, the at-fault party is responsible for whatever are the reasonable consequences that flow from the act of negligence. So typically, in an auto collision, whether it is a car or a truck, any of the injuries that stem from the collision itself are compensable. This means they are eligible to receive compensation.

So it’s just a question of valuation as to how serious the injuries are, what kind of economic and non-economic damages are natural consequences of the act and of the injuries.

Negligent Drivers Face Jail Time If Their Actions Were Criminal, Such as Driving While Impaired

Interviewer: Could that person face jail time because of their negligence?

Daniel Hoarfrost: Not unless they’re violating the law, such as with a driving under the influence charge, or reckless driving, and hit and runs. Those are criminal violations, so if they’re found guilty of that, they can certainly face jail time for that.

But in most of the situations that a plaintiff lawyer is involved in don’t necessarily result in jail time. Criminal sanctions are separately brought by the district attorney’s office.

Negligent Drivers Who Do Face Criminal Charges Can Still Be Sued Civilly by the Victim

I guess the flip side to that is if someone has committed a crime, call it driving under the influence, or reckless driving, the victim that’s injured by that act still has a civil right to bring a claim for damages. It is not blocked by the criminal action.

It’s hand-in-glove on occasion. In that case, you have the police agencies investigating a claim for you, so that may develop a lot of facts and evidence that are relevant to the civil claim as well.

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