Determining Liability when a Third Party Causes a Car Accident

Determining Liability when a Third Party Causes a Car Accident

In a large number of auto accidents, the determination of fault is a dispute between two or more drivers. The question is usually what level of negligence each driver contributed to the accident. In some vehicle accidents, however, the circumstances are more complicated. There are times when outside factors contribute to the accident, and in such cases, a third party could be at fault, or at least share some of the blame.

Third-party liability cases are inherently more complex than accidents that involve only a question over driver negligence. In cases like these, a thorough investigation is required in order to uncover all of the contributing factors, secure all of the important pieces of evidence, and build a strong case that will stand up in court.

Which Outside Parties Could Be Liable for an Auto Accident?

There are several third parties that could play a role in a car accident. These include:

Vehicle Passengers

A passenger in the vehicle could be at fault for an accident if they do something directly or indirectly to contribute to the crash. This issue occurs most often with younger drivers whose passengers engage in various types of horseplay, such as grabbing the steering wheel or wrestling around with the driver. A passenger might also encourage the driver to drive recklessly or carelessly, or they may do other things to distract the driver.

Vehicle Owners

A car owner could be held responsible for an accident that happens with their vehicle when it is lent out to someone who is unfit to drive. This is known as “negligent entrustment”. Negligent entrustment can happen when parents or grandparents allow a child to operate the vehicle, even though they do not have a permit or license, or they have been shown to be an at-risk driver. This would also apply to cases in which a vehicle was lent to someone who has a risky medical condition (such as epilepsy), or to someone who is intoxicated or has a history of driving drunk.

Alcohol Providers

Georgia and most other states have what are commonly known as “dram shop” laws that allow an accident injury victim to hold the seller of alcohol responsible for the accident under certain circumstances. Georgia Code section 51-1-40 allows for an establishment to be held liable if they “willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully” serve alcohol to a minor (under age 21) or they knowingly serve alcohol to someone who is “noticeably intoxicated” and will soon be driving a vehicle.

Employers of One of the Drivers

In the case of a commercial driver who is involved in a vehicle accident, the driver’s employer could be held responsible for the accident if the driver is “on the clock” and/or performing occupational duties. Employer liability could be present in accidents involving large truck drivers, bus drivers, tow truck drivers, and anyone else who is driving commercially. It is important to note that even if the company says that the driver is an independent contractor, this is not always true, and they might actually meet the legal definition of an employee.

Faulty Product Makers

Some auto crashes result from faulty vehicles or vehicle parts that go wrong and contribute to the accident. For example, if you just put a brand-new set of tires on your vehicle and one of them blows out while you are traveling 55 mph down the highway, this would be a strong indication that the tires had an inherent defect. The same situation might apply with a brand-new set of brakes that suddenly fail to stop the vehicle, causing a collision. After it is determined that a vehicle defect was the reason for an accident, it may be possible to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or any other party within the faulty product’s supply chain.

Contact an Experienced Atlanta Auto Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered injury in a car accident in Georgia, Bailey, Javins & Carter, L.C. is ready to go to work for you. For a free consultation and case assessment with our attorney, call our office today at 678-981-5370. You may also send us a message through our online contact form.