When you get into a traffic collision and damage is caused to a vehicle or an injury is caused to someone in the vehicle, or other losses are sustained, you will of course want to get compensation for those damages. For this, you need to establish that the accident was caused by negligence. This involves presenting clear and convincing evidence to the court, which in Houston, TX is best achieved through the services of auto accident lawyers.
The Four Elements That Make Up Negligence
1. Duty of Care
In any case dealing with the issue of negligence, the first thing to be established is whether the defendant has a legal duty of care toward the plaintiff. If there is no duty of care from one person towards the other, there can be no negligence, and so the establishment of this relationship is key. One example might be the relationship between a doctor and a patient, where the doctor clearly owes the patient a duty of care.
In the case of an automobile accident, the question of duty of care is much simpler and more straightforward, since every person driving an automobile has a basic duty of care that obliges them to operate the vehicle safely and responsibly. This makes it much easier for your lawyer to argue for a duty of care than if your case did not involve an automobile.
2. Breach of Duty
Once it has been established that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff at the time of the accident, your lawyer will then work to convince the court that this duty of care was breached by the defendant. In practice, your lawyer will attempt to prove that a “reasonably prudent person”, having all the same information as the defendant, would have realized that their actions were going to lead to an accident.
This could be a failure to follow road markings or street signs, or it could be the decision to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or when the defendant knew they were suffering extreme exhaustion. This can be obvious, as in the case of drunk driving, or more complex, as in the case of tiredness or lack of concentration, and having a good lawyer on your side will make all the difference in these moments.
This element of the case refers to the need to demonstrate that the defendant’s breach of duty was what directly caused the accident. It could be the case that the defendant was driving dangerously, or was negligent in some other way, but that is not automatically connected to the accident that took place, and making this causal link between their actions and your damages is essential. This requires a good understanding of the evidence and an experienced attorney.
As well as establishing the direct causal link, your lawyer will need to demonstrate that the accident was a foreseeable outcome of the defendant’s negligence. It could be the case that the driver had no way to know that their breach of duty would result in the accident, due to the intervention of the random and unexpected. Freak events of nature, interventions of unpredictable people or animals, or sudden failures of technology can all make negligence difficult to prove.
This is a crucial element because it deals with whether or not the injuries or losses suffered by the plaintiff can be repaid. For example, if no physical damage was suffered to the vehicle, but the plaintiff underwent a traumatic experience, this is difficult to assess in monetary terms and very hard to compensate through a legal framework. Your lawyer will work with you to present to the court the multitude of ways the accident has impacted your life.
Damages could result from the cost of repair and replacement of a vehicle, the medical bills that result from any injuries sustained during the accident, and any other losses of a similar nature that can be objectively quantified and meaningfully compensated by the court. All good auto accident lawyers will be able to demonstrate to the court the full extent of the compensation you are owed as a result of being in an accident.
Evidence to Prove Negligence
Even the best attorneys need good evidence to allow them to get the right result for their clients, and auto accident lawyers are no different. There are several different kinds of evidence that can prove to be crucial in deciding negligence in accident cases.
1. Party Admissions
Subsequent to the accident, the party who is at fault may admit that they were responsible for causing the accident. This may be a direct admission to the plaintiff, or it could be to a police offer who questions them later on, and anyone who hears the defendant admitting to fault can be called upon to testify in court in the plaintiff’s favor.
2. Video Evidence
It is extremely difficult to contradict the evidence that a person sees with their own eyes, and for this reason, any video evidence that supports the plaintiff’s claims about what happened is hugely significant to the court. Many drivers have dashcams for this express purpose, and even if neither the plaintiff nor the defendant has cameras in their vehicle there may be other vehicles nearby that recorded the accident.
In addition to cameras in the vehicles, there are often static cameras attached to buildings and even traffic cameras observing the roads, and the video evidence from these sources can be used in court to add weight to the plaintiff’s version of events.
3. Witness testimony
Eyewitness testimony is another hugely significant element that can carry a lot of weight if there are people who were nearby, either on foot or in other vehicles, who witnessed the accident. These witnesses can give more than the one-dimensional evidence of a video camera and can explain the events in their own words.
4. Medical Records
The medical records of the plaintiff can have a very significant impact on the court’s decision since they can give an accurate representation of the extent of the injuries that were suffered by the plaintiff in the course of the accident. This makes it easier to consider damages and is incontrovertible evidence of the consequences of the negligence of the defendant
Auto Accident Lawyers in Houston, TX
If you have suffered an accident for which you were not responsible, particularly a serious accident involving extensive injuries or physical damage to your vehicle, you deserve to be compensated. It may be unpleasant to turn your thoughts to a court case so soon after suffering an unpleasant experience, even an injury, but the team at Houston Injury Lawyers are experienced, skilled, and ready to go to work for you, to get the result that you deserve.
Contacting a skilled auto accident lawyer is easy to do, and is an essential step in starting to get your life back on track after an automobile accident. Get in touch with the team at Houston Injury Lawyers, PLLC, today, and start out on the road back to recovery.