Car Accidents and the Laws of Negligence
Being involved in a car accident can be very traumatic, even if nobody is injured. Various laws are in place that determine who is responsible for any damage, whether it is personal or property. The area of law that relates to car accidents is negligence, which is governed mainly by state law. This means that the small details can vary from location to location, however, there are four basic principles that apply when it comes to compensation. Wherever you live in the US, it is the elements of duty, breach, causation and harm that must be proved.
What is Meant by Duty?
This refers to the duty every driver has when driving a vehicle on the highway. They are legally obliged to follow the rules of the road, and also have a legal obligation to operate their vehicles in a reasonable manner. In other words, they must drive safely, at a safe speed, be aware of their surroundings, obey traffic signals, and use their headlights and blinkers when required. There is very little that can be argued when it comes to duty.
A Breach of Duty has to be Proven
It must be proven that the defendant was in breach of their duty, which can make the legal proceedings much more complex. Proof can be provided in several ways, such as:
- Direct evidence
- Statements from witnesses
- Video surveillance
- Admission of guilt
- Circumstantial evidence, such as skid marks on the road and paint smudges.
What is Causation?
It is not automatically assumed that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff must prove causation. In relation to a car accident, this proof is provided by medical testimony. They will show that the injuries were not present before the accident and that they were caused by the crash. Harm also has to be shown to have occurred, and a ‘near miss’ will not be eligible for compensation. When all the above has been shown, the plaintiff can ask for compensation, which could be to cover the loss of wages, medical costs, pain and grief.
What Should You Do after an Accident?
Many of us wouldn’t know what to do in the event of an accident, however, it’s in your best interest to learn, especially because statistics show that it is likely to happen at least once in your lifetime. Remember to fill out an accident report so it shows up in the ppsr REVS check.
After the event of a car accident, never admit to being at fault when questioned. Even an apology to the other driver could be used against you. Getting in touch with an auto accident attorney is important because they will be able to collect the evidence you have gathered and use it to your advantage. If you’ve got your smartphone on you, make a video of the scene, both close up and from a distance. Keep a note of the police officers who attend the scene, as you will need copies of their reports later. Also exchange information with others involved, such as insurance details, phone numbers, names and each other’s address.
Being involved in a traffic incident is stressful enough, and if you don’t take the right steps and understand what is required of you, it will be even more upsetting in the long run. If the accident wasn’t your fault, you will be entitled to compensation. However, only an experienced lawyer will be able to help you recover the cost of the damage.