Negligence refers to a situation in which someone has failed to act with reasonable care, and that failure has resulted in unintentional harm or injury to another person. For example, many car accidents are due to negligent behavior, i.e., carelessness or inattentiveness behind the wheel. Victims of negligent driver accidents may be entitled to receive compensation for injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.
While it may seem easy to win a case involving a negligent driver, proving negligence can be complicated. To win a negligent driver claim, the injured party (the plaintiff) must prove four elements: duty, breach of duty, cause of injury, and damages.
The 4 Elements of a Negligence Claim
- “Duty of driver”: First, the plaintiff has to establish that the defendant owed them a legal duty of care. Since the law requires drivers to exercise care and obey traffic laws, this step is relatively easy. According to the law, all drivers owe other road users a duty to drive safely and follow the rules of the road.
- Breach of duty: The plaintiff must provide proof that the defendant violated their duty to drive safely. A violation entails someone acting, or failing to act, without a reasonable level of caution. Common negligent driving examples include failing to stop at a red light, speeding or driving too slowly, and failing to use the vehicle’s turn signals.
- Cause of injury or damages: The injured party must also prove that the driver’s breach of duty caused the harm they received. For example, a driver who looks away from the road to send a text may not see that his car has veered into oncoming traffic. If an accident occurs and causes another person injury or harm, the injured party may argue the accident wouldn’t have happened, but for the defendant’s inattention.
- Damages: Finally, the negligent claim must provide a monetary estimate for all losses and costs associated with the accident. Individuals who have been injured by a negligent driver could be entitled to compensation for their injuries and may benefit from learning more about their legal rights.