Automobile Liability 101

Automobile Liability Cases Appear at First Glance To Be the Simplest Legal Cases to Resolve.

There are rules of the road and normally, fault is obvious. Shouldn’t these cases be easy to settle? The answer is no for several reasons. The basic litigation points in automobile cases include the following:

Percentage of Comparative Fault

First, in most cases, fault is obvious but in many, it is not. Vermont follows the rule that should a plaintiff driver bear some “comparative” fault for the accident. Such as driving over the speed limit, failure to adjust to obvious wet or snowy conditions, etc. Next, a trial court may assign some partial blame to the plaintiff. In Vermont, partial blame deemed attributable to the plaintiff driver will reduce any award by his or her percentage of fault. Therefore, if the injury and damages from the accident award totals $100,000, and the plaintiff is 25% fault, this reduces the award by the court to $75,000. Many cases include some evidentiary debate over this “percentage of comparative fault. If the plaintiff driver is more than 50% at fault, they recover zero.


Second, some damages are easily ascertainable and some are not. Medical bills, lost wages, and property loss (the value of your totaled car for instance), are easy to calculate. The evidence and value of those things is ascertained from real bills, paychecks and resources. As well as, service providers who value vehicles. Other damages, such as how the injury has affected a person’s ability to do their job, raise their family or enjoy their free time, are very subjective and require a more detailed assessment of a person’s overall health Along with lifestyle choices, work and work history, and other factors.

Most litigation over automobile accident cases involve a high level of attention. Dispute over the value and anticipated awards for these types of damages is common. For instance, the impact of a broken bone on an otherwise healthy 25-year-old is significantly different from that same fracture on a 65-year-old. Complications, disability time, and the scope and success of recovery from this same injury can vary greatly from person to person.

Available Insurance Coverage

Finally, available insurance coverage is always an important component to these cases. Vermont’s minimum insurance has limits ($25,000/person – $50,000/per incident). It also places tremendous importance on your purchase of automobile insurance. The law only requires vehicle owners have the minimum insurances noted above. However, should you or a family member suffer from an injury due to another person’s negligent driving, you need protection through your auto coverage.

This area of the law and auto insurance market is know as Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage. This coverage is mandatory for all auto insurance sold in Vermont. If the negligent driver’s coverage is insufficient to cover the value of your claim or your family member’s claim, your own coverage is the next place to look for assistance and possible compensation.

For further advice on your specific needs, Contact one of our attorneys for a consultation.

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