It seems like a clear-cut case of driver negligence. You were obeying traffic laws when another driver plowed into you. The crash left you seriously injured, and you believe you should be compensated by the other driver. While you may have a legitimate claim for damages, you will have to prove a series of legal elements to build your case. Working with a personal injury attorney from day one will allow you to focus on recovering from your injuries while someone else takes care of the legal issues. At The Mottley Law Firm, we only accept a few personal injury cases at a time, allowing us to devote the necessary time and resources to each of our cases. If you were seriously injured in a Richmond car accident, contact us for a free case review. If we believe we can build a strong case and get you the compensation you deserve, we will take your case and get started.
Building a Car Accident Claim: Step One
The first of the four elements that must be proven in order to hold the other driver responsible for paying your medical bills and other damages is duty of care. This legal obligation is defined as a person’s adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others. Driving a car is an act that could harm others; therefore, every driver is bound by an obligation to operate his vehicle in a manner that protects the safety of others. In car accident claims, duty of care is generally a given.
Proving the Other Driver Breached Their Duty of Care
The second element that must be proven is that the other driver did something reckless or unreasonable, and that is what caused the crash. This is probably the most important and often most difficult element to prove. In a car accident claim, this could be any number of things, including the following:
- Running a red light
- Following too closely
- Sending a text message
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Targeting another driver in an act of road rage
Any form of distracted driving or violation of a traffic law would be considered a breach of duty of care, but you must also provide evidence that the other driver did, in fact, commit this breach. A citation from a police officer would be irrefutable proof, but your attorney can also gather evidence such as witness statements, traffic camera footage, accident recreations, photos from the scene, and more, to prove that the other driver breached his duty of care.
Next, You Must Show That This Breach Caused Your Injuries
The next element is known as causation. You may have shown that the other driver broke a traffic law, but you also need to prove that this violation caused the crash and that the crash was the cause of your injuries. Along with evidence discussed above, such as a traffic ticket or video footage showing that the other driver’s actions caused the crash, you will also need medical evidence that the crash is what caused your injuries. This evidence might include:
- Doctors’ statements
- X-rays or other scans
- Expert testimony
- Photographs of your injuries
It is at this point that the insurance company for the other driver may offer counter-evidence suggesting that your actions contributed to the crash or that your medical condition existed before the accident. Your personal injury attorney will defend you against these charges to maximize the value of your claim.
The Final Element: Proving Damages
The goal of a personal injury claim is to compensate you for what you have lost because of the accident. Therefore, you must prove that you have actually suffered losses, such as physical or emotional impairments, wages or sick time, and future earnings. Your attorney will do this by gathering medical records, bills for treatment, earnings statements, and expert testimony to present to the insurance company or in court if the case cannot be settled. An experienced personal injury attorney will also know how to place an economic value on your pain and suffering and will present that evidence to ensure that you receive maximum compensation.