Elements of a Car Accident Claim

Being involved in a car accident is a terrifying event, and, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were an estimated 2.36 million people injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2012. If you have been in a car accident, you know how traumatic it can be. The last thing you probably want to worry about is who’s going to pay for your damages and medical bills.

While you can recover compensation via your medical benefits coverage, if you have been hurt in a car accident that was another driver’s fault, pursuing a liability claim against an at-fault driver can help you get the compensation that you deserve. In order to prove the other driver was at fault, you generally will have to prove negligence. For more information about all of the elements of a car accident claim and how to prove negligence, refer to the following:

Duty of Care Existed

In order to prove that negligence occurred, you first must prove that there was a duty of care. Duty of care refers to a legal standard by which a person has an obligation to act responsibly when doing anything that has the potential to cause harm to others. Vehicle drivers, for example, are expected to operate vehicles in a safe and reasonable manner. As such, proving that a duty of care existed for the driver who caused the accident is usually pretty straightforward in car accident claims.

Negligent Actions Occurred

The second element in a car accident claim is establishing negligence — or an irresponsible action or set of actions — occurred in regards to the driver’s duty of care established above. For example, if the driver who hit you was drunk while driving, then the driver blatantly violated his or her duty of care by operating the car while intoxicated and in a way that has a high probability of causing harm to a person or property.

In most cases, the violation of traffic, safety or other laws is enough to prove negligence, or a breach of duty, in a car accident claim.

Linking Negligence and Injuries

Causation, as the word implies, refers to the cause-and-effect connection of the driver’s negligent actions, the car accident, and your injuries or personal damages. More specifically, there are two types of causation that are referred to in a legal sense:

Cause-in-fact: Cause-in-fact causation refers to the direct relation of the driver’s actions to your injuries. Take, for example, a case in which a driver turns right in an intersection and hits a bicyclist, and the cyclist suffers a concussion. In this case, the driver’s actions are directly responsible for the cyclist’s concussion.

Proximate cause: Unlike cause-in-fact, proximate cause refers to the link between the driver’s negligent actions and a person’s injury but in a less direct sense. For example, if a vehicle runs a red light and hits another vehicle, and that second vehicle then hits a pedestrian as a result, it can be deduced that had the original vehicle not run the light, the pedestrian would not have been hit. Therefore, the pedestrian accident would not have occurred but for the negligent actions of the original driver.

The final part of causation is damages and refers to injuries or harm that occurred to a person or his or her property as a result of the accident. Depending upon the severity of damages or injuries that you sustained, your compensation will vary greatly.

Your Car Accident Insurance Claim: What’s next?

At Cordisco & Saile LLC, our attorneys know how important it is that you get the compensation that you deserve. If you need help filing your car accident claim or understanding the value of your injuries and damages, we can help.

Because the statute of limitations for filing a claim in Pennsylvania is two years from the date of injury for a personal injury claim, according to Pennsylvania Statute section 5524, you need to act now. For a free case consultation or to get started on filing your auto accident claim today, call us now at 215-642-2335.