Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

Accountability for medical costs after a car accident

The impact of motor vehicle collisions can lead to extensive medical costs associated with treatment and recovery. FindLaw.com explains that who is responsible for those costs depends on who was responsible for the accident, as determined by California car accident compensation laws covering "at fault" and "pure comparative negligence" statues.

In cases in which a single vehicle crashes into an object, building, fixture or other structure, determining accountability for medical expenses is fairly simple. If the crash was caused by driver negligence, the driver or their insurance provider is responsible for any medical expenses associated with the crash, including those resulting in catastrophic, life-changing injury.

If the crash was caused by an external factor such as improperly maintained roads or vehicle failure due to defect or malfunction, a third party may be held accountable for medical expenses and/or damages. In these examples, that third party would be the state and city highway commission or the vehicle manufacturer.

Determining accountability becomes more complex when two or more vehicles are involved. If a single driver is determined to be at fault, that driver may be liable for both his or her own medical expenses and those of other parties injured in the collision. In cases of comparative negligence in which multiple drivers are at fault, an insurance investigation and even litigation may be necessary to determine the degree of fault for each party involved, as well as associated accountability for medical expenses.

One such case reported by Fox40 involved two people killed in a multi-car collision in Folsom, while a third was injured. An SUV driving the wrong way on White Rock Road caused a head-on collision with another vehicle, killing both drivers and injuring the driver of a third car. In this case the driver of the SUV can be demonstrated as the party at fault for violating traffic laws. Accountability for the surviving driver's medical expenses would likely be assigned to the deceased's SUV driver's estate or insurance provider.

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