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What Does “Duty of Care” Mean in Car Accident Claims?

If you were in a car accident and suffered an injury or property damage, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. For your claim to be successful, you will have to prove negligence. A driver may be considered negligent if he or she breaches a duty of care owed to you. This means the at-fault motorist failed to fulfill a legal obligation to drive safely, resulting in your injury or loss.

All drivers have a duty to conduct themselves in a manner that does not put other road users at risk. They breach this duty when they engage in negligent or reckless behaviors such as:

  • Failing to stop at a red light;
  • Speeding;
  • Tailgating;
  • Not yielding the right of way when required to do so;
  • Failing to maintain their vehicles;
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; or
  • Engaging in other illegal or dangerous behaviors.

 

What Does “Duty of Care” Mean in Car Accident Claims?

If an accident occurs due to a driver’s negligence, any victims can bring personal injury claims for their damages.

Driver Errors Are the Leading Causes of Car Accidents in the U.S.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, human errors were to blame for up to 93 percent of crashes in 2008. While many accidents are caused by road or environmental conditions that may be outside of a driver’s control, most are the result of poor decisions and negligent behaviors. The three most common driver error-related causes of serious accidents are driving under the influence, speeding, and using a cell phone.

Proving Negligence in a Car Accident Claim

If you intend to file a third-party claim, you will need to prove that the other driver’s negligence caused your accident. There are many types of evidence that you or your personal injury attorney can use to prove your claim including photos of the scene, the crash report, toxicology test results, witness testimony, footage of the crash, and testimony from accident reconstruction experts.

There is other evidence that might be relevant to your case depending on the specific cause of your accident. For instance, if you were hit by a commercial vehicle, you may be able to prove negligence using black box data and weigh station receipts. If your accident was caused by a defective car part, blueprints and schematics might play an important role in proving negligence and liability.

It is often a good idea to enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer. The claims process is complicated and time consuming, and if you already have serious injuries to deal with, you might wind up making a costly oversight. A personal injury attorney can help you avoid crucial mistakes that would jeopardize your claim. Your lawyer can also interview witnesses, gather evidence, and file subpoenas for evidence that is difficult to access.

Besides proving negligence and liability, you will also have to prove the value of your medical bills, lost income, and other damages. This may require medical records, diagnostic imaging, paystubs, income tax returns, and expert witness testimony. If you sustained severe injuries or if you expect the insurance company or defendant to dispute your claim, you should consult an attorney to help you navigate the proceedings.

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