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What exactly does it mean to prove negligence in a car crash?

You did everything right. You paid attention to the traffic laws, the other vehicles around you and diligently kept your eyes, hand and mind on the task at hand -- driving. Yet, another motorist failed to give you the same courtesy, and you ended up in an accident.

Now, you find yourself facing substantial medical bills, lost wages and other damages, all because someone else somehow failed to drive safely. You may have heard that you can file a personal injury claim to pursue compensation for your injuries from the other driver. All you have to do is prove negligence. Okay, but what exactly does that mean?

What does it take to prove negligence?

As you can imagine, it's not as simple as saying that another car crashed into yours. A successful personal injury claim must prove the following elements of negligence:

  • Did the other driver owe you a duty? In a car accident claim, this element is often the easiest to prove. When a driver gets behind the wheel of a car, he or she owes a duty to other motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to obey traffic laws, pay attention and otherwise drive safely.
  • Did the other driver fail in that duty? If the other driver didn't use reasonable care while driving, he or she could have failed to live up to the duty to drive safely. Examples of a driver breaching his or her duty include texting while driving, driving drunk or falling asleep at the wheel. Of course, a driver's actions don't have to go to those extremes to be negligent. Speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way and other traffic violations could also constitute negligence.
  • Did the other driver's actions cause your injuries? Using the examples above, you would need to show the court that if the driver hadn't been speeding, texting or drinking, you wouldn't have suffered any injury. In addition, you need to prove to the court that the other driver should have known that his or her actions could lead to injury.
  • Did the other driver's negligence cause you to incur damages? This is where your medical bills, lost wages and other legal damages come into play. The court will want to see proof of your financial and other losses due to the harm caused by the other driver.

As you can see, proving negligence encompasses more than just the fact that another vehicle slammed into yours.

Where to seek help

If you suffered serious injuries in a car accident that you believe the other driver caused through some sort of negligence, you may find it helpful to find some assistance in proving your claim. Understanding your rights, gathering the appropriate evidence and presenting it to the court is often easier said than done. However, with the right help, you increase your chances of a successfully pursuing the compensation you deserve.

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