Determining Negligence in Auto Accidents
Posted on behalf of Goldberg Finnegan, LLC on Mar 27, 2017 in Negligence
If you have been injured in a car accident, one of the most important elements for filing a claim for compensation for a car accident is to prove who was at fault.
There are several factors that are necessary for determining fault in an accident.
An experienced car crash lawyer in Maryland can further advise you about the specifics for your case.
What is Negligence?
Negligence is a legal theory upon which personal injury lawsuits are based. This theory allows injured victims to recover compensation from an at-fault party.
If an at-fault party has acted negligently, it means that he or she failed to take reasonable measures to protect others and prevent injury. Although there was not intent to cause harm, the person’s careless actions caused the car accident that caused your injuries.
In the case of a car accident, a negligent driver is someone who failed to drive safely on the road. This can include:
- Failing to obey traffic laws - This can include running red lights and stop signs, failing to yield, driving while intoxicated, and speeding. It is also illegal to use a handheld phone while driving in Maryland.
- Failing to remain alert while behind the wheel - Drivers should always be alert of their surroundings in order to be prepared for obstacles or unexpected occurrences. A driver who is texting, talking on the phone, adjusting the radio or navigation, eating, brushing his or her hair, or applying makeup while driving is distracted and acting negligently.
- Failing to maintain control over the vehicle - A negligent driver can include someone who is reckless in his or her handling of a vehicle, including those who swerve in and out of a lane, fail to stop at the appropriate place at an intersection, stop suddenly for no reason, or fail to stop when they should.
- Failing to properly maintain a vehicle - If an accident occurs because the vehicle owner failed to maintain the vehicle and get the necessary repairs completed, he or she could be negligent.
Elements Required to Prove Negligence
In order to prove that another driver was negligent and caused your accident, we must be able to show that the four elements of a negligence case are present in your claim:
- Duty of Care – All motorists have a duty, or obligation, to follow the laws of the road and handle their vehicle safely and with care. Drivers should not drive in a way that could cause harm to others.
- Breach of duty of care – If a driver fails to uphold this obligation and drives in a careless or reckless way by breaking a traffic law, speeding or driving under the influence, he or she has breached his or her duty of care.
- Causation – To have grounds for filing a car accident lawsuit, we must be able to show that your injuries were a direct result of the other driver’s breach of duty, or negligent actions. You will not be able to hold the other party liable if his or her actions did not cause your injuries.
- Damages – In order to recover compensation from a car accident lawsuit, we must be able to calculate the damages you have suffered because of your injuries. This can include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
What if More Than One Person is at Fault?
Fault for an auto accident is not always black and white. In some situations, fault may not be initially clear. In other cases, more than one person shares fault for causing the accident.
Because Maryland follows the rule of pure contributory negligence, this in a crucial fact for determining if you have a personal injury case.
Under the rule of pure contributory negligence, an injury victim is barred from recovering compensation if he or she shared any fault in causing the accident. Even if the victim is found to be 0.01 percent at fault for the accident, he or she will not be able to recover compensation.
This is a complicated rule that requires the legal guidance of an experienced car accident lawyer. It is best to contact our team of attorneys to discuss the circumstances of your claim and determine if you have a case.
Evidence to Support Your Claim
If you believe you may have a case, it is important that you begin gathering evidence to support your claim immediately after the accident. Some important pieces of evidence that can prove negligence include:
- The accident report - Obtain a copy of the accident report, which will include details about the accident and who the responding officer thought was at fault for the accident.
- Detailed notes about the accident - Write down everything you remember about the events leading up to the accident and the incident itself, trying to include as many details as possible.
- Witness statements - Collect the contact information for anyone who may have witnessed the accident.
- Photos - Take photos of the accident scene, the damage to your vehicle and the injuries you have suffered.
- Medical records - Obtain copies of your medical records, which will show the extent of your injuries and will establish that they were caused by the accident.
- Other motorist’s driving record - Review the previous driving record of the other driver to determine if he or she has a history of driving violations.
An experienced car accident lawyer will guide you through this process and help gather the necessary evidence to prove your claim.
To learn more about how Goldberg Finnegan can help you, contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation. We do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you.