Car accidents are an unfortunate event, but the fact is that they can happen and could leave a victim with serious injuries. Following a car crash, it is important to properly investigate the incident. This will help uncover the cause of the incident. In addition, it could help assign liability or fault in the crash. This information could be very useful for an accident victim, especially if they seek to recover compensation for the injuries, losses and damages caused by the negligence of another driver.
In order to establish that another driver was completely or partially at fault for a crash, it is often the case that negligence needs to be proved. In civil actions, negligence is a distinct cause of action and five elements need to be present and proved in order to recover in a personal injury action based on negligence.
First, there must have been a duty of care owed by the defendant driver to the plaintiff victim. In the matter of car accidents, this is usually the duty to drive safely and uphold the rules of the road. Second, there must be a breach of that duty. That usually comes in the form of unsafe driving and violating traffic laws. In addition, it could also happen when a driver fails to adjust his or her driving for road conditions, such as inclement weather.
Third, there must be an actual causal connection between the conduct of the defendant driver and the resulting harm to the accident victim. This means that the injuries suffered by the victim must be associated to the accident in question. The fourth element to prove is proximate cause, which relates to whether the resulting harm of the accident was foreseeable. For example, was it foreseeable that the speeding of the driver or the driver's failure to yield would cause an accident?
Lastly, damages must have resulted from the conduct of the defendant driver. This means that the injured party must have incurred losses and damages that are related to or caused by the accident. Whether it is medical bills, lost wages or damaged property, this must be an element in a cause of action for negligence.
Investigation is a crucial step to take following a car accident. It provides useful information and could be used to hold a party at fault criminally and civilly responsible for the incident. Those unsure of how to initiate this process or what steps to take following an injury causing car accident, may want to seek advice about their rights and options so they can determine the appropriate action to take.
Source: Injury.findlaw.com, "Negligence: Background," accessed on Jan. 9, 2015