A spider is to blame for a recent car crash in Cairo, New York.
A woman was reportedly spooked when the arachnid was discovered on the driver’s side of the vehicle, causing her to panic and crash. The victim of the crash is in “rough condition,” but okay according to a friend. The vehicle, unfortunately, sustained severe damage.
Although this story is bizarre enough to make national news, it turns out that these sorts of crashes are actually more common than you might think. In fact, Forbes reported in 2013 that about 1% of distracted driver fatalities are caused by a “moving object in the vehicle, such as an insect or unrestrained pet.”
Which begs the question: who is to blame for these kinds of crashes?
Clearly, it won’t be the spiders or pets.
When something like this happens, liability is determined just like it is in any other crash – if you were the distracted driver causing the accident, it will probably be you who’s held liable.
Let’s take a look at how fault is determined in an auto accident, and how auto accident liability is handled in New York.
Determining Fault in NY
Determining auto accident liability is sometimes straightforward (for example, in most rear-end accidents), but can often be more complex.
After a crash, police and insurance investigators will rely on damage to the vehicles, witness statements, and relevant traffic laws at the site of the accident in order to determine which driver(s) were at fault.
In rear-end accidents, the driver who hits the front-most car is almost always at fault. However, there are exceptional cases in which other factors are considered.
When one car is rear-ended and subsequently hits the car in front of it, for instance, liability depends on whether the middle car was traveling at a reasonable distance behind the front-most car.
In a side swipe scenario, police and insurance investigators look at which vehicle had the right-of-way, and which vehicle violated traffic laws by failing to yield.
Many investigations find that both drivers are at some degree of fault. In this situation, state laws dictate the extent to which each driver is held financially liable.
In the case of the woman and the spider who apparently sat down beside her? Unfortunately, she will likely end up taking all of the blame.
In any case, once responsibility is determined, it’s time to file a liability claim.
How New York Liability Claims Work
New York is a no-fault car insurance state. This means that after a crash, both drivers will file a claim under their own personal injury protection coverage to compensate for damages, regardless of who caused the accident.
However, if your injury was severe and meets certain prerequisites, you can take your case a step beyond the no-fault law and bring a civil claim directly against the at-fault party.
If the other party is found to be 100 percent liable, compensation will be paid to you. If you bear some degree of responsibility, on the other hand, New York’s “pure comparative fault rule” will apply.
Under this rule, the jury is asked to calculate the damages and the percentage of fault for each party. This is then used to determine the financial damages owed to the driver that is less at-fault.
No matter what, if you’re involved in a car accident and feel that someone else is at-fault, talk to a NY personal injury attorney right away. Car accident liability has strictly enforced statutes of limitation, and the sooner you bring the accident to the attention of an experienced legal professional, the more likely you are to get the compensation you deserve.