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Defining Fault In Alaska Vehicle Accident Cases

There are many causes of vehicle accidents, including driver impairment, speeding, and distracted driving. Determining fault in any traffic accident begins with figuring out which party was negligent.

“Duty” Has a Special Meaning in the Law

Vehicle accident claims generally arise out of the negligent actions of one or more parties. The first element of a negligence claim is a duty, which is the legal responsibility of one party to act in a particular way toward another party. All drivers have the legal duty to obey the law and drive in a responsible manner.

Furthermore, if the driver responsible for the accident was performing work duties on behalf of his employer at the time of the accident, his employer may also be held liable. The owner of the vehicle driven by the driver responsible for the accident may also share liability if he entrusted the vehicle to someone who was reckless, incompetent, or unlicensed. If multiple parties have liability for the accident, they may be responsible for paying damages equal to their proportionate share of the liability.

Breach of Duty

The plaintiff in a vehicle accident claim must demonstrate that the other party breached his duty by doing something wrong. A few examples of a breach of duty are:

  • Failing to control a vehicle properly.
  • Failing to obey stoplights or stop signs.
  • Speeding.
  • Driving while impaired.


The plaintiff must be able to link the defendant’s breach of duty with causing the accident. In legal terms, this is known as a “but-for clause.” For instance, but for the defendant’s speeding, the accident would not have happened.


Damages must be linked to the breach of duty. Damages are losses that the plaintiff suffered because of the accident. In a trial, the judge or jury will decide the amount of money the plaintiff should receive for his damages.

Some of the most common vehicle accident damages include:

  • Property damage.
  • Past and future medical expenses.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Lost wages.
  • Loss of future earnings.

Legal Assistance

If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, you need legal representation to prove your claim. Contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.