A car accident that is caused by someone else’s negligence can leave you with injuries that require ongoing medical treatment, pain and suffering and lost income. However, the insurance company of the person who hit you may not be forthcoming with payments for these expenses. How can you show that a car accident was caused by another person’s negligence?
What Is Negligence?
The legal definition of negligence is slightly different from the commonly accepted definition of the word. The law defines negligence as “failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not.”
One of the key factors that distinguishes negligence from criminal activity is intent. While the result may be the same for a negligent or an intentional act, negligence by definition is accidental or unintentional. This is an important point when a car accident injures a victim, because drunk driving or reckless speeding may be considered intentional and fall under the heading of “intentional torts” rather than negligence.
However, reckless driving may also be charged as a crime even if it is considered negligence and unintentional. The confusion between true negligence and intent has caused great confusion on the part of victims who want to recover damages. It is important to have legal advice when someone is injured in a car accident to determine the best way to collect compensation from the at-fault driver.
How Is Negligence Proven?
In making a claim for damages based on negligence, the victim must prove three things:
1) The party who was negligent had a duty of care to the victim or the public. This is usually easy to show in car accident cases, as all drivers are required to avoid collisions with other drivers.
2) The driver’s actions were negligent because they were not what a reasonable person would have done.
3) The damages were caused by the negligence. This is known as “proximate cause” and is an area in which many insurance companies will try to deny the victim compensation.
What If I Am At Fault, Too?
Many car accident cases are not “cut and dried.” In many cases, the victim may have also performed some unsafe act that resulted in his or her own injury. New York follows a comparative negligence rule that allows the victim to collect a percentage of damages even if he or she was partially responsible for the injuries.
For example, if you are hit by a drunk driver who runs a stoplight but you were not wearing your seatbelt, the jury might decide that you are 20 percent responsible for your injuries. In that case, you would receive only 80 percent of the proposed award rather than the full amount.
New York also makes the owner of a vehicle responsible for all damages caused by a driver who is using his or her car with permission.
What Compensation Is Available When A Car Accident Is Caused By Negligence?
If a car accident is caused by negligence, the victim may be entitled to compensation including payment of medical bills, recovery of lost wages and benefits, reimbursement for increased living expenses and sums for pain and suffering as well as other expenses, depending on the circumstances of the crash.
How Can I Collect Compensation for My Car Accident Injuries?
The best way to be sure that you collect full compensation for your car accident injuries is to consult a personal injury attorney with experience in dealing with car accident cases. The Fitzgerald Law Firm in New York is ready to help you with your car accident negligence matter. Call us today for a free consultation.