In most cases of auto accidents, the driver ends up at least partially liable for the accident. However, the driver of an at-fault vehicle is not the only party who may be liable for the accident. Below are other parties who may share the liability of an auto accident with the driver.
An Alcohol Server
If an intoxicated driver causes you injury in an accident, then you might have a valid claim against the restaurant, bar, or person who served alcohol to the driver. First, dram shop laws allow you to hold an alcohol vendor liable for an accident if they sold or served alcohol to a person under the age of 21, or if they sold alcohol to a person who is already visually intoxicated.
Secondly, laws on social host liability may allow you to hold non-vendors liable for your damages if they served alcohol to an underage driver. In both cases, your claim will be particularly strong if you prove that the driver's intoxication caused the accident.
You may also have a claim against a passenger if you can prove that they contributed to the accident. Here are some ways a passenger can cause or contributes to an accident:
- The passenger grabs the wheel or stomps on the brake pedal in an emergency.
- The passenger distracts the driver, for example with horseplay or driving games.
- The passenger, who is the owner of the car, allows an intoxicated person to drive.
In short, a passenger may be liable for your damages if they did anything that interfered with the driver's control of the car.
Apart from the above two parties, the mechanic who repaired the car may also share liability with the driver. Many things cause car accidents, and one of them is defective car parts. If a mechanic who repaired the car is responsible for the defect, then the mechanic should pay for your damages.
For example, a mechanic may shortchange a motorist and fix their car with used and defective brakes instead of new brakes. If the motorist ends up in an accident due to defective brakes, then the mechanic may be on the hook for the damages too.
A Rental Car Company
In most cases, you are solely responsible for accidents you cause with a rental car. However, car rental companies may sometimes be liable for accidents their vehicles may cause. Here are some of the cases where a car rental company may be liable for a car accident:
- The rental company gives their car to an obviously intoxicated driver.
- The rental company rents to a driver without a driving license.
- The rental company knowingly rents out a defective car.
As you can see, a common theme in the above examples is that the rental company did or failed to do something, and their action or inaction contributed or failed to prevent the accident.
A Road Maintenance Authority
In rare cases, road maintenance organizations may also cause or contribute to accidents. For example, a road maintenance authority may be liable for a car crash if:
- The authority fails to maintain proper lane markings and signs.
- The authority fails to fill potholes in time.
- The authority constructs an unusually narrow road.
Most road maintenance authorities are government bodies that are immune to accident lawsuits for negligent design of the roadway. However, there are cases where you may hold government bodies liable for an accident due to negligent maintenance of the roadway. Talk to your lawyer to find out if your case is one of these exceptions.
Lastly, you may also have a valid claim against the driver's parents if the driver is a minor. The legal principle of parental liability allows you to hold parents liable for the negligent and willful actions of their children for negligent entrustment or under the family purpose doctrine.
In an accident lawsuit, you may have other options beside the driver who caused you injury in a crash. At Palmetto Injury Lawyers LLC, we will help you identify all the potentially liable parties and hold them responsible for your damages. Contact us today so that we can help you maximize your compensation.