Understanding Auto Accident Law: What You Need to Know

Understanding Car Accident Claims: A Step-by-Step Guide

Car accidents can be chaotic and stressful. When you’re injured, one of the biggest concerns is figuring out how to get your medical bills and other damages covered. To hold someone responsible for the accident, certain things need to be proven. Here’s a simple guide to understanding these elements:


What is Duty of Care?

When anyone gets behind the wheel, they are expected to follow driving laws and drive safely to avoid causing accidents. This responsibility is known as the “duty of care.” For instance, drivers should:

  • Drive within speed limits
  • Stay focused and avoid distractions
  • Follow traffic signs
  • Use car features properly, such as headlights at night

Example: Imagine you’re driving, and the car in front of you suddenly stops to avoid hitting a squirrel. If you’re following at a safe distance and paying attention, you can stop in time. But, if you were speeding, you might crash into them. By speeding, you would fail your duty of care to drive safely.

What Does Breach of Duty Mean?

If a driver doesn’t fulfill their duty of care, it’s called a breach of duty. This can include actions like texting while driving, tailgating, or even applying makeup.


Evidence can come from different sources to prove this:

  • Witnesses who saw the accident
  • Traffic cameras
  • Admissions of fault at the accident scene
  • Sobriety test results or skid marks on the road

Example: If someone is texting and doesn’t notice the traffic light has changed from green to red, and they cause an accident, this would be a breach of duty.

How Does Causation Fit In?

Causation is about linking the breach of duty directly to the accident. It uses the “But For” test. You must show that “but for” the other driver’s actions, the accident wouldn’t have happened.

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The accident must have been foreseeable – meaning, a reasonable person would know their actions could cause an accident.


Example: If a driver makes an illegal U-turn on a busy street and hits another vehicle, that action directly causes the crash. “But for” the illegal U-turn, the collision wouldn’t have happened.

Why is Proof of Harm Important?

You must show that the other driver’s actions harmed you. This could be damage to your car or physical injuries. The proof often includes medical records and evidence of vehicle damage.

Example: After the accident, medical tests show you have a broken arm. The accident report and photos show the severe damage to your car. These prove that you were harmed by the crash.


Bottom Line: Bringing It All Together

To win a personal injury case after a car accident, you need all four elements:

  • A duty of care existed
  • The duty was breached
  • The breach caused the accident
  • There is proof of harm

With these in hand, a personal injury attorney can build a strong case to help you get the compensation you need.

Remember these steps if you’re ever in an accident. Knowing your rights and what needs to be proven can make a challenging situation a bit easier to manage.


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