If you were recently involved in a car accident that you know was caused by another driver, you may believe that fault is obvious. But there is a difference between personally knowing something and being able to prove it in court.
In order to hold the other driver liable in a personal injury lawsuit, you – with the help of your attorney – need to prove that the other driver was negligent. In California, negligence claims generally have four elements, which we’ll discuss in this post.
First element: the driver owed you a duty of care
California’s Civil Code 1714 warns that each person is responsible for both willful acts of harm and acts of harm that occur due to “want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person.” Each of us generally owes a duty of care to others to behave in ways that reasonably reduce the risk of causing injury or death.
For drivers, this means obeying traffic laws, paying attention behind the wheel and refraining from behaviors known to be dangerous (like drunk driving, speeding, or texting). Proving duty of care is easy, because all drivers owe a duty to others on the road.
Second element: the driver breached their duty of care
To prove fault, you must show that the other driver breached their duty of care by behaving in a way that a “reasonably prudent person” wouldn’t have behaved under the same circumstances. Most prudent people would know that texting while driving was dangerous and likely to cause injury to others and would therefore not engage in it.
Third element: the driver’s breach of duty caused your injuries
You next need to directly connect the defendant’s unacceptable driving behavior to your injuries. It is also important to show that the defendant should have been able to predict that their actions or inaction were dangerous and likely to result in harm to themselves or others.
To stick with the texting driver example, you could argue that the driver ran a red light and crashed into your car because they were too distracted to notice and obey traffic signals. Because California has outlawed handheld use of a cellphone behind the wheel, you can also argue that the driver knew or should have known that such behavior was dangerous.
Fourth element: You suffered damages as a result of the accident
“Damages” refers to things like medical bills, lost wages, property damages and other losses you suffered due to the accident and your injuries. This is typically another easy element to prove, but it is important to carefully and thoroughly calculate damages to ensure maximum compensation. That’s one of many aspects of your case which would greatly benefit from the help of an attorney.
Let Us Help You Prove Negligence And Seek The Compensation You Deserve.
The attorneys at Woods Williford, P.C., are highly experienced in California personal injury law, and we have been fighting for the rights of injury victims for decades. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.