Personal injury law hinges on the legal concept of negligence, or one party’s failing to uphold a certain duty of care in a given situation. For example, licensed drivers have a duty of care to other drivers to follow posted traffic signs and obey the traffic laws. Speeding, aggressive driving, running stop signs, failing to use turn signals, and improper lane changes are a few examples of how drivers can violate or breach their duty of care on the road.
Proving negligence in a legal battle entails four elements:
The plaintiff has to prove the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care in the given situation.
Next, the plaintiff must show the court how the defendant violated this duty.
The plaintiff can only sue for the direct results of the defendant’s negligence, so the plaintiff must prove his or her.
The plaintiff can only sue if he or she suffered damages, or actual harm.
Imagine this scenario:
A driver is using his cell phone and speeding through a residential area. He fails to notice a stop sign and drives through the intersection, striking a car passing through the intersection with the right-of-way. The other driver suffers a concussion and multiple broken bones. The other driver’s car sustains severe damage, resulting in the car insurance company totaling the vehicle.
In this scenario, the at-fault driver’s obligation to follow the rules of the road is his “duty,” and the speeding, cell phone use behind the wheel, and running the stop sign all constitute “breach.” The plaintiff’s totaled car and injuries form the “damage” in the case, and the plaintiff only needs to provide enough evidence to show these damages resulted from the defendant’s careless driving and not some other cause.
While this example is very straightforward, reality is rarely this black and white. Hiring a personal injury attorney will greatly increase an injured driver’s settlement or case award following an accident with a negligent driver. Additionally, the right car accident lawyer will know how to gather the evidence necessary for proving causation and securing the maximum amount of compensation possible for his or her client.