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News Stories

What is Considered Car Accident Negligence?

If you or somebody you care about has been involved in a vehicle accident, you may hear the word “negligence” come up quite often. However, what does that actually mean? When it comes to personal injury law, which includes vehicle accident cases, the word negligence does have a specific meaning that is defined by four separate elements.

1. Duty

The first step in establishing the negligence of another driver in a vehicle accident is showing that there was a duty of care in place. Every driver on the roadway in California has an obligation to operate their vehicles safely. They must do so not only for themselves but also for their passengers, those in other vehicles, and bystanders around the roadway. This obligation to operate safely is called their duty of care.

Establishing that a duty of care is present in a car accident case is not the most challenging part of vehicle accident claims in California.

2. Breach

After establishing that a duty of care existed between the injured party (the plaintiff) and the alleged negligent driver (the defendant), it must be shown that the duty of care was breached in some way. There are various ways that a driver can breach their duty of care owed to others. This can include, but is not limited to, distracted driving, driving while impaired, speeding, failing to obey traffic laws, and more.

Establishing that there was a breach of duty can be challenging because this involves gathering the evidence needed to prove that a breach of duty occurred.

3. Causation

After establishing that the defendant breached their duty of care to others on the roadway, it must be shown that this breach of duty directly caused the plaintiff’s car accident injuries or property damage. Just because another driver breaches their duty of care in some way does not necessarily mean that they were the cause of the plaintiff’s damages. For example, even if an impaired driver is on the roadway, there may be other factors that contributed to an accident that led to them being a victim just as much as anyone else.

Using the evidence gathered at the scene of the crash, and in the days and weeks that follow the incident, a plaintiff and their legal team will have to show that the plaintiff’s actions directly caused the accident that led to the injuries and property damage.

4. Damages

The last element of establishing negligence for a California vehicle accident case is showing that the defendant suffered some sort of monetary loss as a result of the incident. This type of monetary loss can be a variety of things, including emergency medical bills, ongoing medical expenses, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering damages, and more.

Working With an Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a vehicle accident caused by the negligence of another driver in California, we encourage you to reach out to an Orange County car accident attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can use their resources to fully examine the facts of the case and stand up to aggressive insurance carriers, and they will be beneficial regardless of whether or not your case ends up going to court.