You may have been involved in an auto accident, but this does not necessarily mean that you will be able to claim compensation successfully. In order to file a claim, you must demonstrate that your case fulfills the criteria. There are four different elements to a negligence case, and we at Stambaugh Law will look at your case to determine whether it meets these criteria or not.
Element one: the person who injured you owed you a duty of care
It is very rare for an auto accident claim to trip up at the first element because it is incredibly easy to determine whether somebody owed you a duty of care.
Whenever you take control of a vehicle on the road, you have a ‘duty of care’ towards other road users. This means that you need to drive in a way that is safe for them. The law doesn’t particularly care if you are putting yourself at risk. They care that you are not putting other people on the roads at risk. This means not driving in a manner that goes against the ‘laws of the road’.
The same as if you are driving a vehicle. You owe a duty of care towards the other passengers in your vehicle. You have the responsibility to ensure that you take great care when driving.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, and it was the fault of another driver, then you have already met the first element of negligence. You will run into a bit more difficult if the injury was not caused by another driver on the road e.g. something was blocking the road, or you were distracted. This is something that you will need to discuss with a lawyer to establish whether somebody had a duty of care towards you in that case.
Element two: there was a breach in the duty of care
At this stage, you will need to provide evidence. Police reports and witness statements will go a long way to establishing whether there has been a breach of the care of duty.
Generally speaking, if there is an auto accident, somebody must have breached their duty of care. There are a few exceptions to this rule. However, in most cases, somebody must have been ‘at fault’ for the accident. It is important that you establish that you are not the person at fault. If you are, then not only will your claim for compensation fail, but there is a chance that you will owe the other party compensation.
Your lawyer will be able to go over the evidence in order to ascertain what happened on the road. A few cases will slip up at this point. Many people believe they have a claim simply because they have been involved in an auto accident, and that isn’t the case. If it was a mere accident and nobody was at fault, it is unlikely you have a claim. If you need more information about it you can learn more on our post: ” Car Accident Injury 101″
Element three: your injuries were caused by the accident
This should be fairly easy to establish. You should know if your injuries were caused by the accident. However, it isn’t enough to say that your injuries were the direct result of the accident. You actually need to prove that they were. If you did not obtain a medical report after the incident, then it is going to be an uphill battle when it comes to proving your negligence claim. It is impossible, but you can except the defending party to ‘go hard’ on attempting to disprove the injuries that were caused by them.
Element four: there must be quantifiable damages
If you want to make a claim for compensation, then you need to prove that you are entitled to the amount of money you are asking for. These damages can be split into two categories.
- Economic damages
- Medical bills
- Lost time from work
- Childcare costs
Basically, any economic expense that you are dealing with as a result of your injuries. You can’t claim for something you would have been paying for anyway. You should be able to provide receipts and invoices for everything. It is difficult to make a claim if you do not.
You may also be able to claim for pain & suffering. However, there is no exact calculation for how much you can claim here. Furthermore, don’t expect it to be in the region of millions of dollars if your auto accident injuries are minor. Even then, the amount you can claim for pain and suffering will be minimal unless you are suffering life long injuries. Working with a reputable lawyer who has experience dealing with auto accident claims will be able to help you come up with a rough figure for compensation here. Get a free consultation today.