If an auto accident happens due to another’s negligence actions, the injured party may be legally entitled to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party for compensation. However, before the injured party gets settlement or judgment for their damages, he or she will need to prove all “elements” of negligence were present to show that the other driver is liable for any losses emanating from the accident. Usually, this is the most challenging bit and is why many accident victims prefer bringing in car accident lawyers in California.
Understanding negligence in a car accident case
If you are like many people, you’ll assume that it is all straightforward. After all, the other driver owes you a duty of care, and they breached it and caused your injury, so they have to pay up. Unfortunately, it is not all that black and white, because the judge or jury may not see it as clearly as you do. It is also their responsibility to ensure that everyone gets justice, so they won’t just take your word for it. It’s for this reason that you have to collect all critical evidence and present them before your lawyer. The two of you can work together to ensure that all pieces fit and that everything is in line. If something doesn’t match, you may end up with no compensation.
So what are you supposed to do to prove negligence?
Duty of care
Your first step should be to illustrate that the other driver owed you a duty of care. The law requires all drivers to operate their vehicles in a manner that would not injure others. If the defendant was tailgating, speeding, driving while distracted or violating other traffic laws – especially if he or she was cited for the violation – then you can prove they were negligent.
Breach of duty
This point goes hand in hand with the one mentioned above. Your task here is to demonstrate how the defendant breached his or her duty of care. Was he driving aggressively? Was he talking, texting, or eating while driving? Did he ignore traffic signs? Was he following too closely? Was he driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? The breach of duty follows the reasonable care standard – where the other driver is expected to act as any other reasonable driver would in a similar circumstance. If a reasonable person wouldn’t act the same way the driver did, and you prove that, you can convince the judge that the defendant breached his duty.
Causation and damages
Causation and damages are the third and fourth elements of negligence and are often intertwined. Here, you have to prove that the defendant is responsible for the breach, and as a result of their actions, you were hurt. You will need to prove these damages to be eligible for compensation. At this point, you will need medical bills and records to show your injuries and expenses, along with any repair (or replacement) costs for your property damage. Under causation and damages, you have to prove that were it not for the defendant’s fault, you wouldn’t have these damages.