Monday, 30 April 2018 11:59

A Real Magic Bullet Solution To Liability?

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Virginia is a contributory negligence state, one of very few in the nation, which means that liability decisions can have devastating consequences. While comparative negligence states can still deliver liability decisions that sting, they are usually on the margins.

For example, if you live in a state where they have pure comparative negligence laws, a tough liability decision can easily swing who owes what by 20%, but it’s far less common to see a 90% negligence swing. That’s because in a pure comparative state, an insurance claims adjuster can say, “This person is 35% at fault and that person is 65% at fault.”

In Virginia, where contributory negligence laws govern, negligence of 1% can swing who owes what by the full 100%. For example, if someone failed to signal when merging and is side swiped by a drunk driver speeding 30 mph over the posted speed limit, both drivers were negligent. If both drivers are found to be negligent, then both are barred from recovery from the other.

In practice, contributory negligence laws usually, operative word usually, bear out to require 5-10% negligence, at least, to find a driver partially at fault. A judge or jury or both can quickly turn that notion on its head, however, so it’s of little consolation when you get slammed with a harsh judgment in court.

Maybe the above is nothing new to you.  The reason this information is important is because determining liability in a car accident is often a hazy science, at best, and not far off an educated guess, at worst. If there aren’t witnesses, a reliable police report, skid marks, specific damages, or some other semi- objective information, you’re now relying on the honesty of what is said by two different drivers with very different agendas.

Truth be told, in simple accidents like rear end collisions, the majority of people involved will provide honest descriptions of what happened. Beyond that, you might be wading into the wild west of liability. When both drivers “think” they aren’t at fault, they start massaging the description they provide the claims adjuster or sometimes they outright lie.

Now, insurance claims adjusters aren’t a totally naive bunch and they have techniques and strategies to extract higher quality information from drivers, but in plenty of instances, nothing can be done to separate fact from fiction. When you get to that point, look out, things can quickly go south.

This problem is one of those rare situations in life where a magic bullet solution literally does exist. The magic bullet is the dashboard camera.  A dash cam can provide a definitive answer to who is liable and who is not liable, or to what degree either is liable. It’s not a guarantee, as the camera has to be operational and provide a useful angle, but a recording from the perspective of one driver may quickly catch a liar in their lie about what happened in an accident.


Cameras can be bought relatively cheaply from Amazon. You might just save yourself from fraudulent claims or wrongly disputed liability.

Additional Info

  • Year: 2012
  • Month: January
Read 112 times Last modified on Monday, 12 March 2018 11:00

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