If you are involved in an accident, then the authorities will have to find the person at fault so he or she can pay for the damages. Liability or fault exists at different levels. Even if two people cause similar car crashes that result in comparable injuries, one party may be more liable for the damages than the other one. Here are the four common levels of liability that may be assigned to you after a car crash:


Negligence is carelessness or an unintentional act that results in another person's harm. You are negligent if you inadvertently do something or fail to do something that causes an accident and harms somebody.

For example, you are negligent if you are distracted by a pet on the passenger seat, and you fail to hit the brakes at a stop sign and hits the car in the front (the inaction/failure to stop is your negligence). You are also negligent if you hit another car because you were texting while driving (the negligent act is texting while driving).


You are reckless if you act with utter disregard for other people's safety, and you know (or should know) that your actions can harm other people. Its main difference with negligence is that, in the case of recklessness, you knowingly take the risk that ends up harming the other person.

In the case of a car accident, consider a situation in which you decide to run the red light because you are late for work. This is reckless because you know, or should know, that running the red light can harm other people.

Intentional Misconduct

Just like the name suggests, acting with intentional misconduct means you willingly engage in a dangerous act intending to harm another person. Both recklessness and intentional misconduct involve knowingly engaging in a dangerous act. The main difference is that, in recklessness, you don't intend to cause any harm, while, with intentional misconduct, you want to harm another person.

A good example of intentional misconduct is road rage. Suppose another motorist cuts in front of you, and you decide to teach him or her a lesson by banging your aging van into his or her expensive sports car. In this case, you may be charged with intentional misconduct since you know your actions will harm the other motorist, and that is what you want to achieve.

Strict Liability

In strict liability, you will be held liable for damages arising out of an accident even if you were not at fault. This means you have to pay for the damages as long as your car, or its contents have harmed another person. For example, a company transporting dangerous chemicals by road may be held liable for the ensuing damages if an accident occurs and the chemicals cause injuries to other people. This may be the case even if the truck ferrying the chemicals does not cause the accident; the assumption is that the transporter assumed the risk when he or she agreed to transport the dangerous goods.

The level of liability is important because it corresponds to the seriousness of your charges. For example, intentional misconduct may attract not only civil charges but also criminal ones. A car accident lawyer, like Palmetto Injury Lawyers, will safeguard your rights and ensure you aren't assigned the wrong level of fault.