If you’ve ever been involved in a car accident with injury, you know there are facts and evidence you have to present to prove your case. This is called the burden of proof — proving to the insurance company, or the judge or jury, that all the allegations you are bringing forth actually happened.
Although car accident injury cases are complicated, fortunately, the burden of proof is lower in civil cases — i.e. car accident claims — than it is for criminal cases, because the civil burden is based on “a preponderance of the evidence” or “more likely than not” that the defendant is liable.
What elements do you have to prove in a car accident injury case?
In order to prevail in your car accident claim, you have to prove that the defendant was negligent. This is done by proving the following four elements of negligence:
- The defendant had a “duty of care” to the car accident victim.
- The defendant breached said “duty of care.”
- The injury was caused by the defendant’s negligent actions.
- The person filing the claim was injured.
What is duty of care?
Duty of care is a broad term that means someone had an obligation to be cautious and show reasonable care for the plaintiff’s safety.
One obvious example of duty of care is that you are required by law to drive cautiously and safely on the road. If you didn’t do that, you breached your duty of care.
Other ways the duty of care can be breached include:
- Driving drunk
- Reckless driving
- Following too closely
- Texting and driving
If any of those offenses are listed in the accident report, then it’s much easier to establish that the defendant breached his or her duty of care.
Next, the plaintiff — or likely the plaintiff’s experienced personal injury attorney — must prove that the duty of care breach — the defendant’s actions and subsequent vehicle accident — caused injury to the plaintiff.
In other words, the plaintiff has to prove that the injury would not have happened if it weren’t for the accident, and that the injury did not exist before the accident.
Obvious examples of this include a broken foot if a pedestrian is run over by a car. But other times, the direct link between the crash and the injury is harder to prove, especially if the plaintiff had pre-existing health problems — like a back injury — that were exacerbated by the crash.
The last thing you have to prove is that your injuries are real. That’s not a difficult thing to do as long as you have documented medical records, photos and receipts.
No matter how minor or severe you think your injury is, if you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Contact Robert Armstrong’s office today.