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Proving negligence in a motor vehicle accident case: looking at the basics

When an individual is involved in a motor vehicle accident, the immediate concern for that person is to exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved and to seek medical immediate attention for any injuries that may have been sustained. The next step, once that is done, is to ensure one receives compensation for the injuries.

In many cases, compensation will occur exclusively through insurance claims, but it can, in some cases, also involve pursuing civil litigation. When pursuing damages for a motor vehicle accident in court, accident victims must provide relevant, reliable and sufficient evidence to demonstrate four elements.

The first element an accident victim, as plaintiff, must prove is that the defendant had a duty toward the plaintiff. The second is that the defendant breached that duty. Thirdly, the plaintiff was show he or she was harmed as a result of that breach of duty. Fourth, there must be evidence of a sufficient causal connection between the breach of duty and the harm experienced by the plaintiff.

The way in which an accident victim seeks to prove negligence will vary depending on the circumstances of the case. All drivers have the legal duty to exercise reasonable care in the operation of a motor vehicle, so any evidence of failure to exercise reasonable care can serve as evidence of breach of duty. In many cases, this is proven by introducing evidence of the violation of traffic laws. In truck accident cases, there are a variety of federal and state safety regulations which must be followed, and violations of these regulations can serve as evidence of negligence.

In our next post, we’ll look at the issue of causation and factors that can make it more difficult for a plaintiff to succeed in proving this element.