When it comes to vehicle accidents—and most frequently accidents involving commercial trucks—preventability is an issue that may come up. Whether an accident is considered preventable may affect a personal injury case, but it’s worth noting the preventability and fault are not technically the same thing.
Preventability Vs. Fault
The difference between preventability and fault is as follows:
- A party who is at fault for an accident was negligent in some way that resulted in injury to others. An at-fault party could be liable for personal injury damages.
- In a preventable accident, a vehicle operator failed to take all reasonable measures to prevent the accident from occurring. A commercial driver may be held accountable by their employer for preventable accidents.
The first is a legal term that has a direct impact on the viability of a personal injury case. The second is a concept used by motor carriers to determine if they need to take corrective action with an employee. If an accident is deemed preventable, it may help solidify a personal injury claim. Alternatively, a non-preventable accident may still be viable depending on the surrounding circumstances, who was involved in the accident, etc.
Examples of Preventable Accidents
To get more in-depth, an accident is preventable if the driver failed to take all reasonable precautionary measures to prevent the accident from occurring. These measures might include following posted speed limits, watching traffic conditions, maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles, etc.
If a driver fails to follow these types of general guidelines and an accident occurs as a result, that accident may be deemed preventable. In addition, the driver may be found liable for personal injury damages since their failure to drive safely could be considered negligence.
Preventable accidents might include:
- Rear-ending another driver after following too close.
- Skidding into a parked vehicle during a snow storm after failing to slow down.
- Backing into another vehicle while failing to make sure the way is clear.
If the driver is operating a commercial vehicle, their employer may make the determination to fire them or take other corrective measures. Others who are injured as a result of the driver’s actions may be entitled to compensation from the driver or their employer.
Examples of Non-Preventable Accidents
Non-preventable accidents occur in spite of a driver’s best efforts. In other words, if the driver of a vehicle does everything possible to avoid an accident but ends up in one anyway, that accident could be considered non-preventable.
Some examples of non-preventable accidents include:
- Being struck by a reckless driver.
- Following reasonable safety guidelines, yet still sliding into another vehicle during a snowstorm.
- Maintaining adequate visibility at night, yet still striking a vehicle running a stop sign.
In these situations, the driver wouldn’t likely be held liable for damages. However, other parties might.
Preventability and Personal Injury Damages
Preventability can help support a personal injury case, but it’s far more important to establish duty of care and negligence. An obviously negligent party can be sued for damages, whereas a party who simply failed to prevent an accident may not be liable. In either case, it’s best to consult with a personal injury attorney if you have been injured in an accident.