Different Elements of Negligence in an Injury Case

BusinessLegal

  • Author Aaron Crane
  • Published May 7, 2016
  • Word count 667

If somebody is involved in a motor vehicle collision, and they sustain injuries and/or property damage, the legal theory that they're likely to make a claim under is the theory of negligence. Arizona requires a person claiming negligence to prove four elements. This is a solid reason why having a Phoenix car accident attorney increases your changes of a successful settlement. If he or she fails to prove any single element, their entire claim fails. These elements of negligence are:

  • A duty

  • A breach of that duty

  • That the breach of that duty caused the claimant's injuries and/or property damage

  • That the damages claimed caused legally recognized damages

  • Duty of Use

Anybody who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle has a duty to use due care and caution for the safety of the person and property of anybody else who might be on or about the roadway. Those people might include other motorists, passengers, motorcyclists, bicyclists or pedestrians who on the roadway or sidewalks next to it. Examples of a driver's duty include but are not limited to:

  • Not exceed the speed limit

  • Maintaining a proper lookout for others on the roadway

  • Maintaining a proper interval

  • Reducing speed to avoid an accident

  • Yielding the right-of-way

  • Breach of duty

A person breaches a duty when he or she fails to exercise reasonable care. Whether a duty exists is a question of law to be determined by a judge. Whether there was a breach of duty is a question of fact to be decided by a jury.

  • Causation of an Injury

The person claiming injuries and damages must prove that the defendant's acts or failure to act was the cause of their injuries and/or property damage. This is a "but for" test – don’t laugh, it is true! The causation issue becomes a question of fact. But for the acts or failure to act of the defendant, would the claimant's injuries and/or property damage not have occurred? For example, would this auto accident not have occurred if that driver had not turned left into the claimant's path of travel? If the cars were traveling in opposite directions going straight, the accident never would have happened.

  • Damages

The claimant must prove legally recognized damages. The amount of any damages to be awarded is a question of fact to be decided by a jury. Damages are usually claimed in the form of actual physical injury to the person's body and/or damage to their property. Just some examples of damages might be:

  • Medical and therapy bills

  • Past lost earnings and any future earnings lost

  • Any permanent disfigurement

  • Any permanent disability

  • Any property damage

  • Comparative Negligence

There are times when both parties fail to use due care and caution, and a claimant is partially responsible or their own injuries. When that occurs, the law of comparative negligence applies. Comparative negligence weighs the percentage of negligence attributable to each party in a motor vehicle collision. In many cases there's no comparative negligence at all. When it does apply, the jury will determine the percentage of fault attributable to each party and deduct the percentage of negligence attributable to the claimant from their award. If the claimant's damages were determined to be $100,000, but he or she was determined to be 30 percent negligent, their net award would be reduced down to $70,000.

Pure comparative negligence

Arizona is in the minority of states that are known as pure comparative negligence states. Even if a claimant is 80 percent at fault for an accident, that doesn't bar he or she from recovery.

The law of negligence involves very complex litigation. If you or somebody close to you has been injured in a motor vehicle collision, and you believe it was the fault of somebody else, contact the auto accident attorneys at Cantor Crane at 602-254-2701 for a free consultation and case evaluation. When you're injured by the negligence of somebody else, you deserve fair and just compensation.

Call Phoenix car accident attorney Cantor Crane at (602) 254-2701 if you have been involved in an auto accident. Knowing what to do after a car accident and having an attorney on your side can make a big difference in your case and insurance compensation for your damages.

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