Car Accidents and Questions of Causation

Car accidents can sometimes involve peculiar chains of causation.

For example, in one recent New York case, a man stole a Hummer from a parking garage and injured seven people as he drove away, before crashing it into a restaurant.

Two women dropped off the Hummer at the parking garage, and then the man jumped into the vehicle and took off with it. The parking attendant clung to the side view mirror of the vehicle as the man drove away, but when he lost his grip, the attendant flagged down the police. Before crashing into the restaurant, the man tore down the street, hitting a cab and a bus.

Generally, the driver of a vehicle can be held liable for an accident if the accident was caused by his or her negligent or reckless driving. Negligence is the failure to use the appropriate level of care under the circumstances, such as by failing to obey traffic signals or by speeding. Recklessness is the purposeful disregard for another’s safety.

Common types of negligence are drunk driving, drugged driving, fatigued driving and distracted driving. Distracted driving is a broad term that includes texting while driving and other behaviors.

In some situations, the owner of a vehicle may be liable for a vehicle collision that occurred while the vehicle was being driven by someone else under the theory of negligent entrustment. This rule generally will not apply in a situation where the car was stolen; more often it arises when someone has loaned their car to another. However, those injured in a car accident may benefit from being familiar with all of the possible claims they can bring in order to more fully protect their rights.

Source: Daily News, “Man swipes Hummer from Chelsea parking garage, crashes it into RUB BBQ on W, 23rd St.,” Shayna Jacobs, Joe Kemp and Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, Sept. 18, 2012

Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our New York car accidents page

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