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3 Major Elements of Negligent Car Accident Claims

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There were more than 188,000 traffic collisions in Indiana in 2011, according to the state of Indiana. For most of these car accidents, the injured parties file a car accident claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company – or their own, depending on the circumstances and the driver’s policy. Usually, the matter is settled out of court, and the parties receive compensation according to the policies and degree of fault in the accident.

All personal injury cases, including those involving car accident injuries, comprise three primary elements.

Establishing Liability in Car Accident Claims

The basis of any personal injury claim is liability. Who was liable for the accident, and did their actions lead to another’s injury? These are the first requisite elements in a car accident claim.

There are four basic parts of establishing liability:

  • Duty of Care – The first element is establishing the fact that the defendant had a legal duty of care to the plaintiff. This is easy to prove in most car accident claims because all drivers have a legal duty to act reasonably and responsibly on the road.
  • Breach of Duty – The defendant must have breached his or her legal duty, i.e., acted carelessly or recklessly in some way, in order to be liable for the car accident.
  • Causation – The next element is causation, in which the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant’s negligent actions contributed to the accident, which, in turn, caused the plaintiff’s injury.
  • Damages – The plaintiff must be able to show that he or she sustained real, actual, provable damages due to the accident.

Proving Fault

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The car accident victim will have to prove that the other driver was at fault for the accident. In some car accidents, both drivers are partly at fault . After analyzing all the evidence, the courts will assign a degree of fault to both parties.

For instance, one driver may be 100 percent at fault, and the other zero percent; or one may be 30 percent at fault, while the other is 70 percent at fault. Indiana’s comparative negligence laws allow drivers to recover damages if they are 50 percent or less at fault – though damages awarded are reduced by the individual’s percentage of fault.

Gathering evidence and hiring an attorney to present your case to the courts is crucial to proving fault effectively. The better you can demonstrate the other party’s fault (and your lack thereof), the higher your final settlement will be.

Some of the evidence you’ll likely use when proving fault include:

  • Accident reports
  • Witness testimonies
  • Knowledge of state and local ordinances
  • Traffic video surveillance
  • Photos of the accident scene
  • Weather reports
  • Expert testimonies (e.g., accident reconstructionists or highway safety managers)

Demonstrating Damages

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The last element of proving a negligent car accident claim is being able to demonstrate the extent of your injuries and damages. You’ll want to be able to provide evidence forall your damages; not only your medical bills, but also for:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost capacity to work and lost work promotions
  • Future medical bills
  • Medical aides and transportation expenses
  • The cost of hiring someone to do household tasks you normally would perform
  • Pain and suffering
  • Counseling
  • Mental anguish
  • Disfigurement or permanent disability
  • The negative impact the accident had on your social, professional and family life

personal-injury-attorney-insurance-adjustersHelp from an Indiana Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident, your best bet will be to consult an attorney in your area. Your lawyer will examine the details of your case, help you gather evidence regarding fault and your damages, and then present a strong case so that you can get the full amount of compensation to which you’re entitled.

To enlist in the help of a car accident lawyer, we invite you to contact an attorney for your auto accident claim at Hensley Legal Group. Call us today for a free case review.