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Proving Negligence in Car Accidents

R. Mark Maritote Jan. 5, 2017

If you’ve been in a car accident, you may be trying to determine who was at fault. This is usually called being careless, in more formal legal terms, negligent.

In many states, you have to have “no-fault” or personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. So before thinking about the other driver, you’ll need to make sure you’ve made your own claims for medical expenses, lost wages, and replacement services.

If you want to claim a negligence action against the other driver, you may have up to six years to do that. However, filing a claim as quickly as possible can help to ensure that evidence is preserved and witness testimony remains reliable. states that in order to prove that the other driver was negligent, he must have “failed to exercise reasonable care and that their carelessness caused or contributed to your injury.” Additionally, if someone died due to negligence, then a wrongful death action can be claimed. You can even bring a negligence action if you were partially at fault-just as long your fault is less than the other driver’s. Depending on the type of accident, the deadlines for filing civil lawsuits vary.

If you’re looking for evidence of negligence, here are a few places to explore with the aid of your attorney.

  • Police report – Hopefully you had the police out at the accident scene and obtained a police report. This is especially important because in many states, you are required by law to report if the accident resulted in injuries or death as soon as possible.

  • Review your state’s traffic laws – You can refer to the website for your state’s Department of Public Safety. You can also look up other statutes about speed limits or right of way, for example.

  • Rear-end collisions – Most of the time, no matter the reason of why you were stopped, if you are hit from behind, you will not be found at fault. But that isn’t always the case. Your own carelessness can cause you to be at fault-e.g., if your brake lights are out or if you were experiencing car trouble and failed to move out the way of traffic.

  • Left-turn accidents – Usually, a car making a left turn is fault when a car comes straight from the opposite direction. Exceptions to this are: the oncoming car was speeding or drove through a red light, or the car making the left turn needed to stop or slow down mid-turn for unexpected reasons.

It should be noted that with both rear-end collisions and left-turn crashes, it all depends on where the damage on the cars is located.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and are either facing a lawsuit or would like to claim a negligence action, reaching out to an experienced personal law attorney should be your next step. A qualified lawyer can thoroughly assess your case and give you needed guidance and support as you recover and move forward from the trauma of the crash.