Proving negligence after being injured in a car crash: Part II

In our last post, be began a discussion about proving negligence after a car accident. Here in Tennessee, assigning fault for a crash is often a very important factor in insurance payouts and personal injury claims. And in any personal injury lawsuit, it is necessary to prove that the defendant was negligent and is therefore liable for the accident and resulting damages.

The first three elements are fairly straightforward. As the plaintiff, you need to show that 1). The defendant owed you a duty of care; 2). The other driver breached that duty of care; and 3). The breach of duty led to the accident and your injuries. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the final two elements necessary to prove negligence.

Element #4: The proximate cause of the accident was the defendant’s action or inaction. This is similar to element #3, but not identical. The easy way to remember this element is: prediction of consequences. In short, the defendant either knew or should have known that their specific action or inaction was likely going to cause injuries to someone else (texting and drunk driving are two examples of driving behaviors that everyone knows to be dangerous to others).

Element #5: As a result of the accident, the plaintiff suffered actual damages that can be quantified. These could be medical bills, lost work time, damage to or destruction of your vehicle, decreased earning capacity and many other problems that arose as a result of the accident.

As a final note, please remember that negligence in a motor vehicle accident may not be limited to the other driver. Various other parties could have been negligent as well, including:

  • The other driver’s employer (in cases of commercial vehicle accidents)
  • Auto mechanics who failed to properly fix a vehicle which was involved in an accident shortly thereafter
  • Local governments that design and build inherently hazardous roads, or those that fail to adequately maintain those roads
  • Auto manufacturers that sell vehicles with design or manufacturing defects which affect safety

Hopefully this week’s posts have given Tennessee readers a better understanding of the basics of negligence and liability. The concepts may be simple, but the details of any given case can be quite complicated. That’s why, after you have been injured in an auto accident, it is critical to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.