After a car accident, filing a lawsuit is an option, but it's not always the best one to take. The majority of cases involving car accidents involve a
After a car accident, filing a lawsuit is an option, but it’s not always the best one to take. The majority of cases involving car accidents involve allegations of negligent behavior. It is only reasonable to file a lawsuit if the carelessness of another party caused the accident. Even in these circumstances, filing a lawsuit is the final step in the process of claiming compensation for a car accident.
Because going to court is an expensive proposition for both parties involved in a car accident claim, the typical course of action is to negotiate a settlement. However, this does not absolve you from the responsibility of contacting a seasoned attorney and getting yourself ready to file a lawsuit.
Because there is so much erroneous information available, it can be difficult to grasp the concepts of liability and negligence, as well as their relationship to your automobile accident claim and the possibility of legal action. If you were injured in a car accident, you should always talk to a lawyer after the accident.
The following information will help you understand negligence and its various types, how lawyers prove negligence in a car accident, and how negligence relates to the process of filing a personal injury lawsuit until you have the opportunity to meet with a car accident attorney.
Types of Negligence in Car Accident Claims
As was just mentioned, negligence is the basis for the majority of claims following car accidents. However, depending on the specifics of a case, legal professionals and judges may use a variety of terms to refer to different forms of negligence. The following provides a high-level overview of the various forms of negligence that may be relevant to your lawsuit arising from the car accident you were involved in.
The majority of lawsuits for personal injury, including those that involve car accidents, are founded on the concept of ordinary negligence. Someone suffers damage to their body, feelings, or finances at the hands of another individual, organization, or third party. Acts and omissions that meet the criteria for the classification of ordinary negligence do not involve the causing of intentional harm or the commission of a crime. To put it another way, these are examples of accidents that could have been avoided but were instead brought on by carelessness. The act of a driver who is at fault for an accident because they were sending a text message on their mobile device is an example of typical negligence.
Negligence Per Se
Behavior or actions that are negligent in and of themselves are referred to as being negligent per se. When viewed from a legal perspective, any behavior that breaks the law and results in death or injury is considered to be negligent per se. The fact that those who are harmed do not have to provide evidence of negligence in order to be successful in their pursuit of compensation for personal injuries makes this form of negligence stand out in comparison to others. In the field of legal practice, a form of strict liability known as “negligence per se” means that a defendant is held strictly liable for damages even in the absence of evidence that they were negligent.
In the context of collisions involving motor vehicles, driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the most typical examples of the kinds of situations in which a lawyer might choose to base a claim on negligence per se. It is against the law to drive impaired. If a driver’s blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 or higher, they have broken the law in Arizona as well as in every other state in the country.
In the event that the drunk driver causes an auto accident that results in injuries or fatalities, the attorney for the plaintiff may argue that the drunk driver was negligent per se. In this particular instance, the attorney only needs to prove that the drunk driver caused the accident rather than proving that negligence was involved.
The legal principle of vicarious liability is classified as a subset of the more general concept of negligence. Vicarious liability can result from everyday negligence as well as from negligence in and of itself. However, the party who is negligent is what distinguishes vicarious liability from other forms of legal responsibility. The term “vicarious liability” refers to the responsibility that falls on a defendant as a result of the negligent actions or omissions of another person. Accidents involving company vehicles and driving under the influence of alcohol are two examples of unique circumstances that could give rise to vicarious liability in the event of a car crash.
Drivers who are careless while operating a company vehicle put their employers in a position where they could be held liable for any accidents they cause. In light of the fact that ambiguity can arise regarding the question of whether or not the driver was “on the clock” when they were operating the vehicle, a victim needs to confer with an attorney in this scenario.
When it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol, vicarious liability comes into play if an attorney recommends filing a dram shop claim against the establishment that served the drunk driver alcohol. Businesses in the state of Arizona that serve obviously intoxicated customers or that knowingly serve alcohol to a minor are held vicariously liable in the event that one of their customers gets behind the wheel while under the influence and causes an accident that results in injuries.
One way to understand gross negligence is as the most severe form of ordinary negligence. Gross negligence is behavior and actions that demonstrate a reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of others; it goes far beyond accidental and careless behaviors. Gross negligence can also be referred to as reckless disregard. The level of carelessness shown in cases of gross negligence is so appalling that it is almost identical to the deliberate violation of the right to the safety of another person. Because gross negligence frequently coincides with illegal behavior, a legal representative may present the “negligence per se” defense in the event of a legal action.
In order to be eligible for punitive damages in a personal injury lawsuit, the law mandates that the plaintiff establish that the defendant acted with extreme carelessness. Punitive damages are rarely awarded, but when they are, they serve two purposes: they punish the defendant for their behavior, and they deter others from committing acts of gross negligence. Because of the potential for punitive damages, insurance claims for car accidents and other types of personal injuries that involve gross negligence typically have a higher value than other types of claims.
The following are some examples of types of automobile collisions that might justify hiring a lawyer to argue gross negligence:
- Driving while intoxicated
- A careless driver who travels at high speeds through an area that has a lot of pedestrian traffic.
- Manslaughter by vehicle: a failed attempt
- An excessive rate of speed, especially in areas where construction is underway.
These are just some of the many possible examples. Suppose you or a loved one has been hurt as the result of a car crash. In that case, it is in your best interest to have an experienced personal injury attorney examine your claim and advise you as to whether or not it can be classified as a claim based on gross negligence.
Read More: Do most car accident cases end up in court?
Proving Negligence in After a car accident Lawsuits
In the previous section, we discussed a few circumstances in which the plaintiffs in a car accident claim do not need to prove that the defendant was negligent in order to win their case. However, plaintiffs are almost always required to demonstrate that the defendant was negligent. After being in a car accident, you should consult a lawyer to discuss your situation so that they can determine whether or not you are entitled to financial compensation. Are you able to claim the injuries you sustained in the car accident? The response to this question will depend on whether or not your attorney believes that all four components of negligence are present in your case.
If you want to file a lawsuit following a car accident, the following is an overview of each component of negligence that you need to prove with the assistance of your attorney:
Duty of Care
In order to establish negligence against a defendant, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed them a duty of care. Establishing a duty of care is not difficult in the context of car accident claims. This is especially true in situations where the accident was caused by another driver rather than a faulty vehicle. All motorists, whether they are driving cars, trucks, or motorcycles, as well as pedestrians and cyclists, have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of those who share the road with them. The laws of the road must be obeyed, and drivers are responsible for keeping themselves and their passengers safe.
Breach of Duty
After establishing that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, the plaintiff’s attorney must then show that the defendant actually breached that duty. Most cases involving car accidents have obvious breaches of duty. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs while distracted by a mobile phone or other electronic device, driving at an unsafe speed, or driving aggressively violates one’s duty to other motorists on the road.
However, there are circumstances in which establishing a breach of duty is more difficult. As we saw with the examples of vicarious liability with employee vehicles and dram shop claims, this is typically the case when a third party is involved in a car accident claim. When multiple vehicles are involved in an accident, it can be difficult to determine who was at fault. Sometimes, ACC, ident, and injuries are the result of the carelessness of more than one driver.
Most car accident claims involve a dispute over fault or liability. To establish negligence, you must show that the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care resulted in the traffic collision and your resulting injuries. It takes evidence, usually more than just a police report, to prove a causal relationship.
Compared to other types of personal injury cases, claims arising from automobile collisions tend to be more straightforward. Expert testimony from accident reconstructionists can help attorneys win cases where the defendant disputes causation.
The third and final element of negligence for a car accident claim is injury or financial loss. In order for an accident injury claim to be valid, the plaintiff must have suffered damages. Minor collisions like scrapes and dings usually don’t warrant legal action. The cost of filing a claim and having it heard is greater than any potential reward.
Many car accidents result in property damage and personal injury, making a determination of loss straightforward. However, physical harm isn’t the only kind of damage that can occur. The costs associated with medical care, time away from work, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life are just some of the damages that can result from being hurt in a car crash.
To Sue, or Not to Sue. That Is the Question
In the hours and days following a car accident, the victim experiences a number of pivotal events. An individual who has been injured in a car crash has been taken to the hospital for emergency care, and they may or may not be staying there. You have contacted the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident, as have the other parties involved. If they haven’t already, they’ll investigate the accident and get in touch with you for a statement.
It would be wise to speak with an attorney and let them handle any further correspondence at this time. Your attorney will first attempt to settle with the defendant and their auto insurance company. Depending on the circumstances, this could take several weeks or months. While avoiding a lawsuit and the associated costs is in everyone’s best interest, there are situations in which your attorney will need to file one on your behalf.
Lawyers typically recommend filing a lawsuit after an auto accident in the following cases:
Terrible wounds. The payout for your claim would likely be much higher than a settlement if you suffered permanent injuries that prevented you from working. Because insurance companies already fight tooth and nail to avoid paying out large settlements in car accident cases, it’s not uncommon for victims to file lawsuits in court instead.
Claims of responsibility. The insurance company refuses to negotiate with the victim. It is unwilling to pay any compensation because it believes the policyholder is not financially liable for the incident.
Low coverage maximum. When settling a claim, an insurance company will pay no more than the maximum allowed by the policy. If your car accident damages exceed your insurance policy’s maximum payout, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver or entity.
False claims in insurance. Insurance companies for motor vehicles are required by law to make prompt decisions on claims and to treat claimants fairly. Your attorney may advise filing a bad faith insurance claim lawsuit against the insurance company if they repeatedly deny your claims for questionable reasons or minimize the severity of your injuries.