When an individual wants to prove fault in a car accident, they often rely on the legal theory referred to as negligence. This article will discuss the legal theory of failure and how it affects your injury claim.
According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute [Negligence | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)], negligence is defined as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions but can also omit when there is a duty to act.” In other words, negligence can refer to a person’s careless actions or conduct that results in harm to another. To understand how negligence impacts your case, speak to Bakersfield auto accident lawyers.
To establish negligence, the plaintiff in a case must prove the following four elements:
- Duty of care: The first element involves the duty of care. This legal term refers to an individual’s responsibility to avoid harming another person or causing harm to another. In the case of a car accident, a driver must drive the vehicle using reasonable care. Such responsibility includes the driver considering numerous factors while driving, such as the conditions of traffic, road visibility, and the weather. Each state has its vehicle and traffic codes that define the legal obligations of a driver and provide prohibitions regarding specific driving conduct.
- Breach: The second element involves the breach of duty of care. For this element, the plaintiff must show precisely how the defendant driver breached their duty of care. For a car accident, proving there was a breach in duty of care will require evidence that the defendant driver committed a traffic violation or drove negligently, thus causing the accident. For example, the defendant driver abruptly turns to the left in front of oncoming traffic, causing another driver to swerve into another vehicle. Collecting physical evidence, such as camera footage, helps demonstrate a violation of the duty of care.
- Damage or injury: The third element of negligence involves the plaintiff proving that they suffered some form of injury or damage due to violating the duty of care. Damage can be in respect of property damage, such as a broken windshield to the vehicle involved in the accident. Further, injury includes the accident’s physical, mental, and emotional effects. Therefore, a near-miss does not qualify as damage or injury.
Causation: The fourth element involves establishing whether the injury or damage suffered by the plaintiff is a direct result of the breach of care by the defendant. For example, in a car accident where vehicle A rear-ends vehicle B, the driver in vehicle B hits their head on the steering wheel and suffers a concussion. This injury directly results from vehicle A’s impact on vehicle B.