Every year, about six million car crashes occur in the US. As a result, about three million people sustain injuries. Another two million people become disabled due to permanent injuries.
Were you recently in a car crash and injured? Your injuries could keep you out of work for a while. You might struggle to pay off treatments, medications, and bills as a result.
There’s always the repairs you need to make to your car as well.
If you were recently in an auto accident, consider suing for negligence. By making a case for yourself, you can fight for the compensation you deserve. The payout could help you cover the cost of your losses.
How do you prove fault in a car accident to sue a negligent driver? Keep reading to find out! In this guide, we’ll review everything you need to know to make your case.
Negligence in a Car Crash
Before you start suing for negligence, it helps to understand it in the situation of a car crash first.
Negligence occurs when someone fails to exercise reasonable care. That lack of care usually results in damages or injuries to another person. In order to prove fault in a car accident, you need to show that the other party failed to take reasonable precautions.
Those precautions should have helped them avoid your car crash.
For example, was the driver speeding during the crash? Were they driving under the influence? Without these conditions, they might have avoided the crash.
In the case of speeding, the driver is found negligent because they failed to exercise the same care as a driver who was obeying the speed limit.
The majority of car accident lawsuits are based on an argument of negligent driving. By proving fault, you can recover your losses.
In order to win a lawsuit based on negligence, you need to legally prove the negligent driver was at fault. We’ll review a few ways to prove negligence below.
There are a few examples of negligent driving you might find are relevant to your case. For example, maybe the negligent driver failed to:
- Use their vehicle’s equipment properly (such as signaling when turning)
- Maintain their control over the car (such as crossing swerving)
- Obey traffic laws (such as running a light)
- Remain vigilant while behind the wheel (such as texting while driving)
Drunk driving isn’t considered a form of negligent driving. Rather, drunk driving cases have their own category of laws. While negligence is a civil violation, drunk driving is so dangerous that it’s considered a criminal offense.
There are four elements involved when suing for negligence. You will likely need to prove all four elements for a plaintiff to bring your lawsuit before a court. Here are the four elements to consider when suing a driver for negligence.
1. Duty of Care
One party owes another duty of care in any situation where someone could get hurt by the first party’s actions. When you’re on the road, drivers owe one another this duty to remain safe. That includes following all traffic laws while on the road.
What would a responsible person do to maintain duty of care? In order to prove fault, you’ll need to prove the driver didn’t act like a reasonably responsible person would.
In some cases, you can prove no-doubt liability. These situations can include rear-end collisions and left-turn accidents.
Read-end crashes are the most frequent type of collision. These crashes account for almost 30% of all crashes. If someone hit your car from behind, it likely wasn’t your fault.
It’s the other driver’s responsibility to stop safely when you’re stopped ahead.
In these cases, the property damage alone will help prove your case. If the rear-end of one car is damaged and the front-end of another is damaged, there’s little argument. In these cases, it’s usually obvious who hit whom.
Did the other party hit you while making a left turn? Usually, the other driver is liable in these cases. There are a few exceptions, however.
Were you driving straight and going well over the speed limit? Did you speed through a red light? In these cases, you might struggle to prove the other driver was negligent.
2. Breach of Duty
You also need to prove the negligent driver breached their duty to drive safely while on the road.
In some cases, breach of duty overlaps with the duty of care. Breaches of duty occur when someone doesn’t act reasonably. Did the other driver act the same way a responsible driver would in the same situation?
For example, maybe the driver failed to signal before changing lanes. Maybe the other driver didn’t look both ways before making a left turn. If the other driver breached the duty of care, you could prove they were at fault.
Next, you’ll need to prove that the negligent drivers’ breach of duty caused your injuries. You might struggle to hold the other driver liable if you can’t prove this element.
Most car accident cases are dependent on causation. The other party will try to argue that they didn’t cause your injuries. The evidence you gather can help refute their claim.
Were you partially responsible for the injuries you sustained? You might struggle to pinpoint negligence on the other party. If you’re struggling to prove causation, make sure to hire an experienced attorney.
They can help use the evidence you’ve gathered from your cause to prove fault in a car accident.
About 4.4 million people in America sustain serious injuries after an auto accident that require medical attention. In fact, between 20 to 50 million people worldwide sustain injuries or become disabled. These damages don’t include the impact left on your car.
When proving fault, you’ll need to calculate all of your losses. What are the costs associated with your injuries?
Make sure to gather documents from your doctor and any specialists you visit (like a chiropractor). How much was your treatment and any medications you purchased? Keep track of all expenses during the span of your case.
Don’t forget to seek legal help if you were hurt after the accident.
If you can’t properly calculate the amount, you might receive less compensation than you deserve.
Your losses can include physical, financial, and economical damages. If you build a strong case, the negligent driver will need to pay off these monetary damages, including:
- Lost wages
- Hospital bills
- Mechanic repair fees
The other driver could even have their license privileges temporarily suspended or revoked (if they’re a repeat offender).
Hiring an Attorney
When suing for negligence, it’s essential to contact a personal injury auto accident attorney as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ll have to navigate the complexities of your case alone. Without a lawyer, you might make a costly mistake.
One tiny error in your paperwork could cost you the entire lawsuit.
Instead, start by searching for qualified, experienced attorneys in your area. Make sure they’re licensed to practice law in your state. Some laws vary based on where you live.
For example, do you live in a no-fault state? Do you understand how that can impact your case?
To find an attorney, check the Best Lawyers and Best Law Firms list online. You can also check your local bar association website. While you’re there, make sure your lawyer is licensed to practice.
How long have they practiced law? It’s important to find someone with plenty of experience. They’ll understand the process involved for proving fault.
Make sure they specialize in auto accident cases, too. Their previous experience can help strengthen your case.
Otherwise, you might end up with a lawyer who lacks the knowledge you need.
Once you have a short list of lawyers, try to schedule a consultation. Many lawyers offer a free consultation. They’ll review the details of your case and help you recognize a realistic outcome.
Don’t choose a lawyer who makes outlandish claims about the outcome of your case. No lawyer can make a guarantee. Instead, look for someone who understands your situation and wants to help.
Before hiring an attorney, make sure to check online for reviews from their previous clients. You can also ask the lawyer for referrals.
What about their track record? How many cases have they won? How many cases involved proving fault in a car accident?
Pay attention to their communication skills as well. Do they sound confident, clear, and concise? Remember, they’re going to argue on your behalf.
Finally, ask about their fee structure. A lawyer who works on a contingency fee basis will only receive a payment if they win your lawsuit.
Make Your Case: Your Guide to Suing for Negligence After a Crash
Ready to make your case? With this guide, you can start suing for negligence after your car crash incident. These tips will help you prove fault in a car accident.
Once you win your case, you can receive compensation to cover your losses!
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