By: Allan M. Siegel
In many of our blog posts, we discuss the rights of victims who suffer
harm in preventable car accidents , as well as how we work to guide victims
and their loved ones through the personal injury claim process and toward
a financial recovery that makes them whole. While there are many different
types of car accidents, and although wrecks can cause involve a range
of factors (from drunk drivers to issues of insurance coverage), all car
accident cases generally involve the need to prove the same legal elements.
In Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC,
car accident cases are claims of negligence, which means the injured party seeks a
legal remedy (in the form of financial compensation) against a wrongdoer
who acted in a negligent or careless manner. Although the particular facts
of a car accident can vary, claims seeking a financial recovery of damages
focus on the following elements:
A Legal Duty Existed
In order for any negligence or car accident claim to have merit, there
must have been a legal against the individual who is alleged to be at
fault for causing the car accident and the personal injuries. A defendant’s
legal duty may exist in different ways, but generally always involves
a duty to take reasonable measures in preventing injuries and harm that
could and should be prevented. In the context of car accidents, for example,
all motorists have a legal obligation to obey the law, and to safely operate
Legal Duty Was Breached
When a legal duty exists between a victim and the defendant, car accident
claims allege it was breached by the defendant. This means the defendant
(such as the driver of another vehicle) failed in some way to uphold their
legal obligation, which often arises from a negligent or careless act.
Because proving a breach of duty typically means proving negligence, victims
will need to allege not just that a duty existed, but also how a defendant
failed to uphold their legal obligations.
This element can be established by claims which allege an at-fault driver
violated a traffic law (ran a red light, failed to yield, etc.), was texting or
distracted while behind the wheel, or was
driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of a crash, and therefore failed to take necessary
and reasonable steps to safety operate their vehicle. In cases involving
product liability and defective auto parts that cause accidents and injuries, a breach of
duty may take the form of manufacturers failing to address design or manufacturing
flaws that made their products unreasonably dangerous and prone to failure.
Causation is a critical part of any car accident and
personal injury claim, and it requires more than establishing the presence and breach
of a defendant’s legal duty. Victims must prove that another party’s
more likely than not (the burden of proof in civil cases known as a “preponderance of
the evidence”) led to their accident and injuries. For example,
a driver who was intoxicated at the time of a crash likely caused an accident
and injuries because alcohol impairs reaction time and coordination.
In order for any car accident claim to have merit, and for victims to
recover financial compensation from the at-fault party, victims must have
suffered injuries and damages as a result of the defendant’s negligent
act. In most cases, these damages involve a victim’s physical pain
and suffering, medical expenses associated with treating their injuries,
lost income or earnings caused by their injuries or medical recovery,
and emotional anguish. A claim will be not be valid if there are no damages involved.
Discuss Your Case and Rights During a FREE Consultation
Establishing the essential elements of a car accident claim requires an
individualized approach, case-specific investigation, and thorough understanding
of how complex laws of negligence and personal injury apply to the facts
at hand. Recovering full and fair compensation further demands the attention
of proven attorneys who know how to fight insurance companies and work
to ensure they pay victims what they rightfully deserve. That’s
exactly what our firm has done for victims across the DC Metro area for
more than 45 years.
At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our Washington, DC car
accident lawyers have leveraged decades of combined experience to help
auto accident victims build effective claims for compensation in cases
involving all types of wrecks, injuries, and insurance and liability issues.
If you wish to discuss a recent car accident in DC, Virginia, or Maryland,
and learn how our firm may be able to help you,
contact us for a FREE consultation.