negligent driver

Legal Building Blocks: How to Build a Case Against a Negligent Driver

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident because of a negligent driver, you need a team of trial lawyers in your corner every step of the way.

In 2021 alone, more than 42,000 people died in traffic crashes. This was a 16-year high for traffic fatalities in the United States! Surviving a car crash may also cause physical and mental injuries that change your life forever.

To recover damages for your injuries, you must establish that other parties in the crash are liable because of their negligence. An attorney with experience representing car accident victims will advocate for you in and out of court. Read on to learn how to establish your case against a negligent driver.


Prima Facie Negligence

Negligence is a civil cause of action brought against another party for their failure to abide by a standard of care as prescribed by law. A defendant’s negligence must be the cause of your injuries in a crash. To establish a prima facie case of negligence against a party, you must prove the following elements:

(1) Duty

The duty of care is an essential part of any negligence claim. If the defendant does not owe you a duty of care under the law, a negligence claim will not be successful against that party.

There are generally one of two different duties of care that will apply to a negligence fact pattern. In a car crash, the legal standard is whether a party acted like a reasonably prudent person would under those circumstances.

Each driver has a duty to operate their vehicle safely. When drivers violate safety laws, they may have breached their duty. For example, driving 40 mph in a school zone with a posted speed limit of 20 mph is negligent behavior. This action is a breach of one’s duty to exercise reasonable care while operating a vehicle.

(2) Breach

The second element you must establish is that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to you.

In the example above, a reasonably prudent driver would operate their vehicle at the posted speed limit in a school zone. The driver breached that duty of care when they drove at double the speed limit on that roadway.

Another driver can breach a duty of care in many different ways. Some of these include distracted driving while texting another person or failing to stop at a red light.

(3) Causation

The third element, causation, is often one of the biggest points of contention in a negligence case. To hold a party liable for your damages, you must establish that their actions were the cause.

Establishing causation is part of a two-prong analysis. You must show that a driver’s actions were the (a) proximate and (b) cause-in-fact of your injuries.

An event is a proximate cause of your injuries when it is sufficiently related to your injuries that the law views it as the cause.

Proximate cause or cause-in-fact means there is direct causation between a party’s actions and your injuries. In the example above, the Plaintiff’s lawyer will work to prove that if the other driver didn’t speed in a school zone, they would not have struck the Plaintiff’s vehicle. The lawyer would claim that the accident was a direct cause of the Plaintiff sustaining injuries.

In order to disprove causation, the other side may try to allege that prior injuries are what caused your injuries. Thus, having an accident lawyer on your side is vital to help prove fault and strengthen your case.

(4) Damages Caused by a Negligent Driver

The fourth element of a prima facie negligence claim is that you must establish damages. Your damages can be economic or non-economic.

Economic damages are direct financial costs you have because of another party’s actions. Some of the most common economic damages are medical bills or lost future wages. Non-economic damages cannot be calculated based on charges or expenses you have after the accident. Some of the most common non-economic damages are items like pain and suffering or loss of consortium.

Loss of consortium includes the loss of affection, love, companionship, care, and support in a relationship. This can pertain to the loss of a loved one or when your injuries prevent you from providing your spouse the love and companionship you could before the accident.

Your legal team will discuss the damages you can seek to recover under the laws of the State of California.


Choose a Reputable Plaintiff’s Law Firm

There are more than 1.3 million licensed attorneys in the United States but the lawyer you hire should be part of a reputable plaintiff’s law firm. That’s because lawyers who represent plaintiffs in personal injury and automobile accident claims devote their practice to advocating for victims like you.

The legal team will also have the lawyers and support staff to handle the magnitude of your claims properly. In your negligence claim, there will be lots of overlap between law and medicine. This means reviewing medical documents before presenting them to a jury.

An experienced plaintiff’s firm will know how to present this information most effectively. This can help you to receive a verdict in your favor and a bigger settlement.


The Importance of Naming All Potential At-Fault Parties

You will only have one chance to file a lawsuit and seek recovery for your damages after a crash. This means that you must name all potential at-fault parties as part of your claim for damages.

After a crash, you may not realize that there may be other parties responsible for your injuries besides who was behind the wheel of each vehicle. A plaintiff’s law firm will research the drivers and vehicles involved in a crash. This will help them uncover the owners of each vehicle, the employers of each party, and other important facts.

This will help you ensure that you name each possible party who may share any fault for the crash and your injuries.


Recover Damages From a Negligent Driver

You need an experienced car accident liability attorney to represent you against a negligent driver. This means the law firm you hire is one of the most important decisions you will make after your crash.

At Coast Car Accident Lawyers, we are a team of lawyers who dedicate our practice to representing plaintiffs injured in car accidents and personal injury cases in California. Contact us today to discuss your case and learn more about how we will advocate for you in and out of court.


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