How do you know if someone is legally responsible for the losses you sustained in a car accident? A lawyer can assess your claim to determine if you can pursue compensation – or, in other words, if negligence can be proven.
Negligence is the number one component in any personal injury claim. To recover damages after a car crash, you must be able to prove that another party’s actions are to blame for your injuries. If you fail to prove that negligence exists, your claim for compensation will be denied. Here, the experienced Salt Lake City car accident injury lawyers at William R. Rawlings & Associates explain what you need to know about legal liability.
The Burden of Proof
If you bring a claim for compensation, you’re the plaintiff – and that means you have the burden of proof. It’s up to you (and your car accident lawyer, if you hire one) to prove that your version of events is accurate, demonstrating the elements of your case by a preponderance of the evidence. Or, to put it another way, you must show that it’s more likely than not that the other party’s actions are directly responsible for your injuries.
The Law of Negligence
To meet the burden of proof in a personal injury claim, you must show evidence that establishes the legal concept of negligence. That means proving your case involves each of the following elements:
Duty of Care
A person can be held accountable for their actions if they had an obligation to exercise reasonable care in regards to safety. When someone gets behind the wheel of a car, they have a duty to be careful. Proving this duty in a car accident case comes down to demonstrating that a reasonable person would have foreseen a risk of injury to others, given the turn of events.
Breach of Duty
Once you have established that the other party had a duty to act with reasonable care, you need to prove that they failed to do so. To prove a breach of duty involves showing that their conduct falls short of what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation. According to car accident lawyers, the standard can vary depending upon the circumstances of a personal injury case.
Breaching the duty of care isn’t sufficient to establish negligence in a car accident case. You must also link the breach to your injuries, proving that the other party caused both the car crash and your resulting injuries. In some cases, there is clear causation – but car accident lawyers caution that establishing causation can be difficult if you had any preexisting conditions.
Finally, the law of negligence requires that you have actual losses, or monetary expenses, to pursue compensation. The notion that someone could have been injured doesn’t create legal liability. So, if you were rear-ended, but your car wasn’t damaged and you weren’t harmed, you aren’t entitled to damages.
Evidence of Fault
In order to prove that another party was negligent, you need to provide clear evidence that shows how and why the crash occurred. The forms of proof you can use to demonstrate negligence include:
- Police reports that detail the course of events and road conditions at the time
- Photos showing the point of impact and the location of debris from the accident
- Eyewitness reports from other motorists and bystanders who saw the crash
- Testimony from accident reconstruction specialists and mechanical experts
These are just some of the many types of evidence that an experienced car accident lawyer can use in building your case. And since some evidence can be difficult to obtain, you’d be wise to have a legal professional on your side.
Evidence of Damages
When it comes to compensation in most personal injury claims, the primary considerations are medical expenses, missed income and the pain and suffering the victim experiences. To prove damages, you can use the following evidence:
- Medical bills for all of the treatment you have received
- Medical records, including test results and photos of your injuries
- Reports from vocational rehabilitation specialists and life planners
- Employment records to calculate the income you’ve lost
- Testimony from economists regarding your future earning potential
- A pain diary that tracks your treatments and whether or not they’re helping
Depending upon the circumstances surrounding your car crash, you may be entitled to other forms of compensation. But while you may be able to bring a claim for loss of enjoyment, loss of consortium or emotional distress, doing so without the help of a car accident lawyer won’t be easy.
Get Help from an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
Proving the merits of your personal injury claim to the at-fault party’s insurance company or in a court of law requires substantial evidence – and having an experienced car accident lawyer in your corner can have a major impact on the outcome of your case. Before you enter into negotiations with an insurance adjuster, contact William R. Rawlings & Associates.
Our car accident attorneys have decades of experience negotiating favorable settlements for injured victims, and we’re always prepared to take a case to court if the insurance company refuses to provide a fair amount of compensation. If you were hurt in a car crash in Utah, California or Idaho and want help from a highly skilled and experienced car accident lawyer, contact William R. Rawlings & Associates today.