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4 Must-Have Elements of any Car Accident Claim

law firmIn any car accident case, proving that one driver is at fault is one of the top priorities. This requires establishing that the opposite party was being negligent, resulting in the incident.

California is one of the riskiest states for drivers. Consequently, accidents and lawsuits are not uncommon. For a case to hold up in court, or for any claims to be considered strong, it needs to be sufficient in substance; it has to have certain elements that prove somebody was at fault.

1. Duty of Care

Every driver has a legal duty to operate their motor vehicle in a non-negligent manner—one that does not pose danger or cause harm to other drivers or to properties. This is one of the first things you’ll learn in driver education classes.

It’s basically about not driving in any manner that could potentially cause harm or injury to other people or property.

2. Breach of Duty

Negligence cases in car accidents happen when one driver failed to do his duty of practicing care on the road. This includes small things such as not observing traffic laws, speed limits, and traffic signs—all of which often lead to big accidents.

3. Cause

The law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon, & Allard explains that under the traditional rules in negligence cases, plaintiffs need to prove the defendant’s actions caused their injury. The cause-in-fact is often determined through the “but-for” test; but for the driver’s action, the plaintiff’s injuries would not have happened.

While a certain breach may not have directly caused injury or damage, the damage would not have happened if not for the driver’s actions. In legal terms, this is called proximate cause.

A drunk driver hits a utility pole, for example, which then falls on you and causes injuries. But for the driver’s breach of duty, the pole would not have fallen and you wouldn’t have gotten hurt.

4. Damages

Plaintiffs need to prove a legally-recognized harm, often through injuries sustained to a person or damages to property. It’s not enough that a driver breached the duty of care. The breach should have resulted in actual damages to a person to whom the driver owed a duty of care.

In most cases, damages are for injuries to a person, property damage, monetary damages, compensation for lost wages and/or earning capacity, and damages for pain and suffering.

These basic elements in a car accident negligence claim do not change per state, although some have certain specifications. Getting sound legal advice is still the best option if you plan to file or are being sued for negligence.

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