How to determine who is a fault for an accident?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

How to determine who is a fault for an accident?

I was riding my bike at night on a marked bike lane. A driver of a parked car opened the door in front of me. I was not too fast and was able to break a little, but crashed into the door anyway. I did not get hurt and my bike was OK; his door did not close properly, though. Whose fault is it? Usually I think it would be totally his fault, but I did not have a front light (only back), so I probably have some responsibility. Since damage is only on his side, will he have to pay for his damage?

Asked on December 13, 2010 under Accident Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If there had been a police report, that would have determined which party was at fault in the accident.  From your question, I assume that there wasn't any police report.

Under the facts you described, it sounds like both parties may have had some degree of fault in causing the accident.  The driver was at fault for opening the car door without seeing you.  You may have been at fault for not having a headlight on your bike.

If your state uses comparative negligence, then each party would be assessed a percentage of fault for the accident and would only be liable for that percentage.  For example, if the driver is found to be 60% liable for the accident  for opening the car door without looking and if you are held 40% liable for not having a headlight on your bike, then the driver would only be able to recover 40% of his damages ( for the repair of the door) from you and you would be able to recover 60% if you had sustained any physical injury or property damage to your bike.  Since you were not injured and your bike was not damaged, you may have difficulty proving recoverable damages in this case.

I am just using these figures as an example; the actual figures will most likely be different.

If the driver had insurance, the insurance carrier will assess liability of each party which you could challenge in court.  Were there any witnesses to the accident?  If so, their testimony may or may not help you.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption