What Steps are Involved in Holding a Negligent Party Liable After an Accident?

If you are injured in a car accident, you might consider seeking compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. This is an insurance claim that you can file with the negligent party’s automobile insurance provider to seek compensation for specific damages related to your injury, such as your medical bills, your lost wages, and any miscellaneous expenses related to the injury such as your need for a mobility aid while recovering.

But in order to recover compensation for your damages, you must demonstrate that the other driver was somehow negligent and that this caused you to be involved in your accident. There are four elements to any personal injury claim:

  • The duty to protect others from harm. For example, every driver has the duty to obey the posted traffic signals and avoid creating situations that could put other drivers at risk of injury, like text messaging while driving or driving drunk;
  • A breach of this duty. When a driver breaches his or her duty to others, he or she is considered to be negligent;
  • The negligence directly caused the accident to occur. In other words, had the negligent party not breached his or her duty to keep others safe from harm, the accident would not have happened; and
  • Because of the accident, the claimant suffered specific injuries and these injuries caused him or her to suffer specific damages.

If all of the above are true, the negligent party may be held liable for the victim’s damages. Your lawyer can go over these elements with you in greater detail and discuss how your claim fits into this framework. He or she can also work with you to develop your claim to demonstrate that you are a victim of negligence.

You Must Prove that Negligence Occurred

Witness testimonies, the official police report, and any video surveillance that captured your accident can demonstrate that the other driver involved was negligent. Examples of driver negligence include:

  • Speeding;
  • Running through a red light or stop sign;
  • Failing to yield;
  • Driving recklessly;
  • Driving drunk; and
  • Driving while distracted by a cell phone or other cause of distraction, such as putting on makeup while driving.

Sometimes, a party other than another driver may be deemed to be negligent. For example, if your accident occurred due to a vehicular malfunction, the manufacturer or seller of that vehicle may be held liable for the damages resulting from the accident.

You Must Prove that the Negligence Directly Caused your Damages

Not only must you prove that negligence occurred, you must prove that it caused you to suffer an injury that resulted in financial damages.

The pieces of evidence you will use in this step are the documentation from your doctor showing that you received treatment and your pay stubs showing your lost wages. This is also why it is so important that you receive medical attention as quickly as you can after being involved in an accident; the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to definitively link your injury to the accident. By showing that you were unable to return to work for a specific period of time following the accident, you demonstrate the effect the injury had on your ability to earn a living.

Use Evidence to Support your Claim

As discussed in the paragraphs above, the evidence you use to demonstrate your position as an injury victim is key to securing a fair compensation amount. In addition to the pieces of evidence used above, other pieces of evidence may be used to give the insurance provider or the court a better sense of the dollar value of your damages. Examples of these pieces of evidence include:

  • Testimonies from expert witnesses;
  • A digital recreation of the accident; and
  • Documentation from loved ones or your mental health professional showing the effect the injury had on your quality of life.

Work with an Experienced Columbia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be facing substantial expenses as a result. To seek compensation for these expenses, consider filing a personal injury claim with help from an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our team of car accident lawyers at Joye Law Firm is equipped to help you develop and pursue your personal injury claim. Contact our firm today to schedule your initial consultation in our office.