Did you know that over 1.3 million people around the world die annually because of auto accidents? Even more, individuals survive these accidents but emerge with serious injuries and medical bills to pay for.
Unfortunately, the guilty party, or the insurance company, might not offer a fair settlement. In these cases, it’s time to consider suing for negligence. However, the process can be difficult and requires a lot of planning and resources.
In this article, we’ll give you a layout of what to expect in this type of personal injury lawsuit. Let’s get started!
When Should I Sue for Negligence?
If the person involved in your accident is an uninsured driver, then you can sue them for negligence. However, keep in mind that uninsured drivers typically don’t have a lot of funds to draw on.
As such, you may not have much to gain by suing. If the person involved in your negligence accident has insurance, then you should first try and file an injury claim. If the company offers you fair compensation, then we recommend taking it.
However, they may try to offer you a lowball settlement. If this occurs, then we recommend rejecting it. From here you can file a suit against the individual party that injured you.
Elements of a Negligence Case That Require Proof
Part of the reason you should try a settlement before pursuing a negligence case is that they require a lot of proof. For example, it’s not enough to simply prove that a person was negligent behind the wheel of a car.
You must also prove that they cause damages in the form of injuries or destroyed property. To help you understand the magnitude of this type of lawsuit, we’ve broken down the four main elements of proof needed for a successful negligence case.
The first thing to prove is that the defendant had a duty to uphold, one that they were negligent in. This duty is sometimes referred to as a standard of care. For auto accidents, there are laws in place for drivers to follow.
It’s the standard that every driver must follow. Upholding these laws and driving safely can be considered any drivers duty. So for this element, you would need to prove that the person was driving the vehicle.
Breach of Duty
Now that you’ve established that the defendant had a duty, you must prove that they broke it in some way. This can be proved by showing that the person didn’t demonstrate reasonable care in the situation.
Typically the breach of duty is pretty clear in auto accidents. For example, if the driver that hit you was on their cell phone, or speeding recklessly, then they weren’t exhibiting the standard of care.
This would qualify as a breach of duty. However, keep in mind this is also where most of the legal battling occurs. The defendant will do everything they can to distance themselves from a breach of duty.
It’s not enough to show that the defendant performed a breach of duty. They must have also caused damages to the plaintiff — damages that can be proven to the court. These damages can be related to personal injury or property.
So, in the event of a car accident, it might be related to a totaled vehicle. Or, if you suffered an injury from the accident, then you can use that as proof too.
Sometimes the injury doesn’t need to be physical. It’s possible to prove that the stress or trauma from the event caused damages in some way or another.
The final thing that you must prove is that the defendant caused the damages. It’s important to note that the defendant doesn’t need to be the direct cause of the damage.
For example, let’s say a driver cuts you off and you swerve off the road and crash. The defendant didn’t cause you to crash your car. But, if the driver didn’t cut you off, then you never would have crashed.
So, in this case, they’d be the indirect cause. During this time the defense team will also see if you had anything to do with your injury. For example, if you were texted when you got hit by care, then the defendant could claim contributory negligence.
The consequences of this depend on the state. In some states, this renders your case obsolete. In others, your amount of money recovered is decreased by your percentage of contributory negligence.
If You Plan of Suing for Negligence, Then Find a Good Attorney
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into an effective negligence case. As such, we highly recommend getting a good lawyer if you choose to sue. They will be able to help you navigate all the documentation you will need for your case.
They will also help you form a plan of attack when dealing with the opposition. Without one, you don’t stand much of a chance against the defense team. You should choose an attorney that deals with the specifics of your case often.
Different lawyers deal with different types of negligence suits. For example, some may work specifically with negligence medical malpractice cases.
So, if you were in a motorcycle accident, then you should hire a professional that often works with that type of vehicle. Just make sure that you find an attorney as soon as possible.
Remember that all cases have different statutes of limitations depending on your state.
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We hope this article helped you learn more about the legal process that occurs when suing for negligence. The sooner you file your case, the better chance you have of winning it.
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