Determining Liability when a Third Party Causes a Car Accident

There are approximately 6 million auto accidents in the United States each year. These accidents result in tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of serious injuries. A common assumption with car accidents is that one or more of the drivers involved is at fault, but this is not always the case. There are instances when a party that is not directly involved in the accident is the one to blame, also known as a third party.

When a third party was at fault for a car accident, it is naturally going to be a more complicated case, and it will require an extensive investigation to establish a causal link between the outside party and the accident. In cases like these, it is extremely important to work with an attorney who has in-depth experience with vehicle accidents and the proven ability to hold responsible parties fully accountable. It is also important to get an attorney involved as early as possible in the case before critical pieces of evidence become more difficult to recover.

There are a number of third parties that may be held liable in an auto accident, these include:


A vehicle passenger could be at fault for a car accident if they do something that causes the driver to get into a crash. For example, a front seat passenger grabs the steering wheel and pulls it to the right while the car is traveling at a high speed. Passengers are also known for encouraging bad driving behaviors, especially among teenagers, although this would be more difficult to prove.

Vehicle Owners

Car owners are generally responsible for their vehicles, no matter who is driving. For example, if a car owner lends his/her vehicle out to someone who is inexperienced and/or irresponsible, the owner could be held responsible for negligent entrustment. The same holds true if they were to lend their car to someone who was intoxicated or did not have a valid driver’s license.

Liquor Establishments

Alabama and most other states have what are known as “dram shop” laws, which are laws that permit someone to go after a person or business that provides alcohol to an individual who was clearly intoxicated. This most often happens in a bar where the bartender continues to serve alcohol to someone who is visibly drunk. The law does not apply to every case of an intoxicated person being served drinks, however. There must be clear and convincing evidence that the person was drunk, which will usually include video footage and the testimony of witnesses.


Employers who allow employees to drive company vehicles are responsible for accidents that happened during working hours and while an employee is performing occupational duties. This may also apply when an employee is driving a personal vehicle but is acting within the course and scope of their employment.

Auto Repair/Maintenance Providers

When a mechanical failure causes a car accident, it could be the fault of a mechanic or auto repair shop. For example, negligent maintenance can occur when a mechanic installs incorrect parts, fails to identify a needed repair, or causes damage to the vehicle during the course of making a repair.

Product Makers

Some auto accidents happen because of faulty vehicle or vehicle parts. For example, newly installed brakes that failed to stop the vehicle or brand-new tires that blow out while traveling down the highway. When a vehicle defect causes a car accident, the manufacturer, distributor, or any other party within the product’s supply chain could be held responsible.

Holding a Third Party Liable for a Car Accident

As we talked about earlier, holding an outside party responsible for a vehicle accident is extremely difficult, and this type of case will be more complicated than a typical car crash where the question of liability is between two drivers. This is especially true in a state like Alabama, where the pure contributory negligence doctrine prevents an injured party (in most cases) from recovering damages if it is determined that they share any fault for the accident.

Your attorney will examine all of the relevant factors to get to the bottom of exactly what happened and attempt to create an unbreakable link between the accident and the party that caused it. To help substantiate the claim, various specialists might be brought in to serve as expert witnesses who can speak authoritatively to certain aspects of the case. Oftentimes, the role of an expert witness can be invaluable in solidifying the claim and ensuring that the injured party is able to recover maximum compensation.

Injured in an Auto Accident in Alabama? Contact an Experienced Vehicle Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one got hurt in a car accident in Alabama, you need a skilled attorney in your corner working hard to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve. As soon as possible after the accident, contact M. Adam Jones and Associates for a complimentary consultation. We will meet with you to discuss the specifics of your case to help determine who might be at fault and what your legal rights and options are.

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