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Negligence 101: 5 Must-Have Elements to Win a Car Accident Lawsuit

Car accidents are a bane of modern-day existence. As per reports, the average number of car crash deaths across the US is 16 people for every 100,000 vehicles. An accident occurs every 13 minutes, and the rate of deaths increased by 16% between 2018 and 2022.

That means every year, at least 43,000 fatal crashes happen in the country. Besides the alarming statistics, it is shocking to know that many victims settle for less-than-fair compensation. After a debilitating car crash, it is natural to want a settlement for the damages suffered.

Insurance companies are usually of no help in the matter because they’re looking out for themselves. In most cases, fair compensation is not made, and if the plaintiff signs the offer letter, they lose their right to file a lawsuit. Now, even a car accident lawsuit can be complex.

This is because the element of fault or negligence is not always clear. The plaintiff is tasked with connecting the dots from point A to point B, C, D, and so on. 

In other words, victims must prove the liable party’s negligence for a fair settlement. In this article, we will discuss the five key elements of negligence required to win a car accident lawsuit.

Duty of Care

Let’s begin by stating that a car accident plaintiff’s chances of winning improve with professional help. Personal injury lawyers offer industry experience and expertise to develop a solid case in the victim’s favor.

With that, let’s mention every driver’s obligation to not cause any harm to others on the road. This means they must carefully observe road safety measures like driving within speed limits, avoiding distractions, using relevant indicators, etc.

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No matter how tight the law enforcement is, some drivers are reckless and strive to break the rules. Others may simply choose to be careless from time to time, presuming everything will go smoothly. If the plaintiff believes that the driver is an at-fault party in the accident, they must start by proving their duty of care.

The attorneys will propose that the liable party was under obligation to obey traffic rules and drive with safety. It means the plaintiff must also prove that the liable party was behind the vehicle’s wheel that caused the accident.

Breach of Duty

After the liable party’s duty of care is established, the plaintiff must prove that they failed to perform this duty. The basis for proving this element is an objective one. So, the at-fault party will be assessed based on how any other reasonable person would behave under similar circumstances.

According to the Frantz Law Group, the attorneys will navigate the intricate evidential process, starting with a thorough case evaluation. This will help them establish how the other party’s conduct did not meet the expected standards of the obligation.

The plaintiff will only win in presenting this element when it is proven that the defendant’s actions were way below that of a reasonable person. For instance – it may be argued that no reasonable person would drive under the influence of alcohol (which the defendant did).

Causation

This is the element where matters get a little tricky. Here, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was a negligent driver. In other words, it must be established that the accident could have been avoided had the liable party been more careful.

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An example could be texting or eating while driving. However, certain third-party contributions must be considered. For instance – an entirely separate vehicle overtaking the defendant’s, which caused them to lose control of the wheel, would not be the latter’s fault.

The plaintiff must work closely with their attorney to gather evidence from reliable sources. Also, they must be prepared since the defendant may twist the story to suit their cause. 

Proximate Cause

Simply put, this element of a car accident lawsuit refers to the foreseeability of the defendant’s negligent actions. This means the plaintiff must prove that any reasonable person would have known that actions similar to the defendant’s would inevitably lead to an accident.

For example – it is possible that the crash happened due to a delay in action on the defendant’s part, who was intoxicated. This will become a proximate cause since the accident is a foreseeable outcome of the defendant’s carelessness.

Damages Suffered

The final element a plaintiff must prove to win a car accident lawsuit is the damages they suffered due to the defendant’s direct negligence. These losses could be lost wages, expensive medical bills, loss of property or future earning capacity, and ongoing medical costs.

Additionally, the plaintiff could be compensated for non-economic losses like emotional trauma and suffering. Proving this element becomes challenging when the plaintiff has already sustained previous injuries. Then, the attorneys must establish that the current injuries only worsened the previous ones.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), road accident injuries are a prime cause of fatality among children and young adults (aged 5 to 29). While 1.19 million lose their lives to crashes each year, at least 20 million suffer from severe non-fatal injuries.

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It is the victim’s right to be compensated for their losses. However, they must first bear the burden of proving the at-fault party’s negligence in court. 

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