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Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?

April 4, 2023

When you get injured in a wreck, one of the first things you need to figure out is who was at fault in the car accident. Until you know who is responsible, you won’t know what claim (or claims) you need to file. Even in the case of a two-car collision, there are several possibilities; and, if you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company when the other driver wasn’t at fault, not only will you be wasting your time, but you will also be delaying—and potentially jeopardizing—your financial recovery. 

This is one reason why it is important to talk to a lawyer as soon after a car accident as possible. When you hire an attorney to represent you, one of their first priorities will be to determine fault in the collision. If you make assumptions about who was at fault, or if you wait too long to hire a lawyer to investigate the accident, you could easily end up without the financial compensation you deserve. 

7 Potential Claims After a Car Accident in Illinois

When working to determine fault in a car accident, your lawyer will examine all possible causes of the crash. Once your lawyer determines the cause, then he or she will be able to determine who (or what company) was at fault. There are several possibilities. For example, depending on the circumstances involved in your accident, you could have a claim against: 

1. Another Driver

In most crashes, a driver is at fault for an accident. Driver negligence can take many forms, from running red lights and stop signs to texting and drinking behind the wheel. If another driver was at fault in your car accident, then recovering your losses will most likely mean dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. 

2. Another Driver’s Employer 

If the driver who caused the accident was working at the time of the collision, his or her employer could be deemed at fault—or at least partially at fault—for the crash. This could be the case, for example, if the employer failed to conduct an adequate background check or hired someone who was unlicensed or unqualified to drive. 

3. A Vehicle or Component Manufacturer

If a vehicle defect causes your car accident, the manufacturer could be at fault. This could be either the vehicle manufacturer (i.e., Chevrolet, Ford, or Honda) or the manufacturer of the specific component that failed. 

4. A Maintenance Shop or Dealership 

Along with vehicle defects, negligent maintenance work and faulty repairs can cause accidents as well. Maintenance shops and dealerships can be deemed at fault for car accidents when the work they perform prevents drivers from maintaining control behind the wheel. 

5. A Government Agency or Contractor 

Government agencies and contractors can be deemed at fault for car accidents when issues with the road are to blame. Along with inadequate road maintenance, this includes building dangerous roadways (i.e., poorly designed intersections and blind curves) and maintaining dangerous road construction sites. 

6. A Bus or Train Company

If your car accident involved a bus or train, the bus or train company could be deemed at fault for a variety of reasons. These include hiring unqualified drivers and failing to perform adequate maintenance on their vehicles, among others.

7. A Bar, Restaurant, or Other Establishment 

If you got hit by a drunk driver, then the bar, restaurant, or other establishment that over-served the driver could be at fault for your car accident. Establishments that serve alcohol have a duty not to overserve their patrons; and, when they breach this duty, they can be held liable for the consequences. 

These are just examples. It is also important to keep in mind that a party doesn’t necessarily need to be at fault in order to be liable. For example, under Illinois’s vicarious liability law, an employer can be held liable for its employee’s negligence even if the employer didn’t do anything wrong. Additionally, under Illinois’s dram shop law, bars and other establishments can be held liable for drunk driving accidents even if they did not have reason to believe that a patron was drinking to excess or would get behind the wheel. 

Speak with a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer for FREE 

Due to the variety of potential claims you could have after a car accident in Illinois, it is important that you hire an experienced attorney to represent you. The Chicago car accident lawyers at Coplan + Crane have built a reputation for excellence in a range of auto accident matters. We have the skill and knowledge you can trust to pursue the compensation you deserve.

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Contact Coplan + Crane today online or at (708) 358-8080 for a FREE case evaluation. We serve clients throughout Illinois, including Chicago, Oak Park, Rockford, and other areas.