Anatomy of a Car Accident Claim

by | Feb 6, 2018

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 their vehicles.

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 negligence 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.

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