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In most car accident lawsuits, negligence is often used to hold a person or company legally responsible for any resulting harm.

An individual can be negligent by failing to do something, such as not yielding the right of way to avoid an accident, as well as by actively doing something, such as missing a stop. Whether a defendant acted negligently in a situation is a question of fact that will be decided by the jury. Negligence is tort, otherwise known as civil wrong.

How to prove negligence in car accident lawsuits:

In most cases, there are four legal elements needed to prove negligence in a car accident claim:

  • Damages: The plaintiff must be able to calculate any damages or losses associated with the injury. If the plaintiff fails to deliver a clear amount, the damages award may be reduced or even denied.
  • Causation: The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused their injuries.
  • Breach of Duty: The plaintiff must prove the defendant breached their duty to drive safely. As it was previously mentioned, this means an affirmative act of negligence, such as running a red light.
  • Duty of Care: The defendant must “owe” the plaintiff a duty of care. In the United States, law dictates that all drivers owe other drivers the duty to drive safely and to obey all traffic laws at all times.

Examples of negligence in a car accident:

  • Failing to use the vehicle’s equipment safely: This category includes failure to signal when turning, failure to dim high beams, or failure to engage hazard lights. This also includes failure to repair and maintain all parts working, for example, broken brake lights, parking lights, or headlights.
  • Failing to maintain control of the automobile: All cases when the driver is not able to control their car under the parameters established by the authority; this includes, sudden stops, and failure to stay within the lanes.
  • Failing to be vigilant: Drivers are expected to maintaining a good level of alertness at all times while driving. One particularly common mistake, is the use of cell phones while driving.
  • Failing to obey traffic laws: Running stop lights, and speeding beyond the speed limit are some of the most common actions considered a breach of the duty of care.

To consider:

Causation is the most used term in the majority of accidents lawsuits. Causation happens when the defendant argues that they did not cause the injuries to the plaintiff, or that the plaintiff was, in fact, responsible for their own injuries. Another point of contention in some cases is whether the defendant actually breached the duty of care.

– In the state of California, it is not uncommon for the plaintiff to be partially at fault. This is the doctrine of “comparative negligence”. Under this doctrine, liability may be divided among all responsible parties according to their relative degree of fault.

– It is also important to understand that drunk driving is classified as a criminal offence, not a civil violations such as negligence. Therefore, drunk driving has its own category of laws.

If you are involved in a car accident, you should have the facts of your claim reviewed by an attorney as soon as possible. The good news is that if you need a car accident attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area, or anywhere in Northern California, we are here for you.  Contact our office to schedule a free consultation by calling  us toll-free at (888) 520-9617 or  contact us online.

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