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What Types of Third Parties Can Be Liable in an Auto Accident Claim

Fault in a car accident isn’t always obvious. Although most times one of the drivers involved in the accident is liable, in some cases it could be that another party is indirectly responsible. Even when a driver’s negligent actions are the cause of a collision, it’s possible that a third party could also be liable.

Third Parties Could Be Liable for Injuries in Auto Accident: Manufacturer 

The automaker could be responsible for a crash if a defective vehicle and/or part caused it. There must be a direct link between the defect and the collision. For instance, a driver attempts to stop but the brakes have failed prematurely or an airbag deploys suddenly causing the driver to lose control.

In this type of case it’s possible that more than one party is liable. It could be that the manufacturer produced a vehicle that was prone to catch fire because of a leak in the fuel system. After it’s recalled, the dealership sells it to a consumer who is killed in a crash.

Other manufacturer-related entities who might be responsible:

  • distributors;
  • wholesalers; and
  • shippers.

Third Party Could Be Liable for Injuries in Auto Accident: Driver’s Employer

If the other driver was working at the time of the crash, the employer might be liable. A common scenario in which this can happen is a truck accident. If the trucker is at fault, the motor carrier company could be liable for its employee’s actions.

Another example is a delivery truck driver whose negligence causes an accident. Or an employee using the company car to run errands. Employers may be held responsible for their employees through the legal doctrine of vicarious liability.

Third Parties Could Be Liable for Injuries in Auto Accident: Another Driver

If it was a multi-vehicle accident, a driver who didn’t actually strike another vehicle could be at fault. For example, during a rain shower a car is weaving in and out of traffic on the I-85 in Atlanta at a high rate of speed; the driver cuts you off and immediately slams on his brakes.

This causes you to slam on yours and – even though you were traveling at a safe speed and a safe distance before being cut off – you lose control on the wet road, hitting a car in the next lane. Even if it doesn’t actually make contact with your vehicle or other vehicles, the car that was driving recklessly by weaving in traffic and cut you off could be liable for causing the accident.

Third Parties Could Be Liable for Auto Accident Injuries: Car Repair Shop

Another potential third party is a car repair shop. It could be that a vehicle was taken in for repairs but the work done was shoddy. There would have to be proof that the repair shop’s work was negligent and this was the cause of the crash.

For example, let’s say the mechanic was supposed to put four new tires on your vehicle, but the mechanic installed used tires that were worn or improperly inflated. If this were to cause a tire blowout while traveling through downtown Atlanta, resulting in an accident, the mechanic and repair shop might be liable. 

Seeking Legal Help When an Auto Accident Involves Third-Party Liability

When there has been significant property damage and bodily injuries in an accident, it’s critical to establish fault. Especially since this usually means missed time from work, facing car repairs (or replacement of a vehicle when it’s totaled), and medical bills. It may take some investigative work to uncover what really happened, which is where an attorney can help.

In addition to the typical kinds of proof gathered—such as an accident report, witness statements and photographs—there might be other types of evidence that is necessary. Personnel files from a motor carrier company, a recall issued and an accident reconstruction expert are examples. An attorney knows the type of information and documentation that will help build a strong case.

Go over liability for your accident in particular with Jason R. Schultz. If you’re in the Atlanta area, set up your consultation today: 404-474-0804.


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