A key part of our job as personal injury lawyers is to help determine who was at fault. Once we’ve thoroughly reviewed a case and have determined that our client’s injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, we must then prove this to an insurance company or a jury. The following information provides a general outline of this process.
Proving the elements of negligence
The first step involves compiling the relevant evidence. To prove negligence, we have to demonstrate each of the following:
- That our client was owed a duty of care
- There was a breach of that duty
- That particular breach of duty caused our client’s injuries
- The damages suffered by our client were legally recognized
A successful negligence claim requires proof of each aforementioned element. If even one of these elements can’t be proven, the client’s negligence claim will likely fail. DC personal injury lawyers are extremely thorough while reviewing cases to help ensure that they only pursue claims they feel will be successful.
According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System of the U.S. Department of Transportation, 720 bicyclists died as a result of collisions with motor vehicles in 2014. About 68 percent of them were killed in urban areas. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that in that same year, about 50,000 bicyclists were injured in crashes with motor vehicles. Some common causes of bicycle accidents with motor vehicles include:
- Drivers failing to check their blind spots before changing lanes
- Drivers who make left turns in front of bicyclists who have the right-of-way
- Drivers turning right as a bicycle approaches it from the right
- Opening doors in front of oncoming bicyclists
- Vehicles exiting private driveways when bicyclists are approaching
Unfortunately, bicyclists are hard to spot in traffic; often they’re not seen until immediately before a collision or after it’s too late. They are often vulnerable to serious injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries
- Pelvic, hip and lower extremity fractures
- Facial fractures
- Internal organ damage
- Road rash, leading to serious infection
Many drivers are completely unaware that bicyclists are protected by the law and have the same rights to use the roads as motorists.
When negligence is proven, the victim will likely pursue one or a number of damages. Those damages might include:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
The liability issue in a negligence case may become further complicated if the negligent party alleges that the victim partially at fault. This situation is referred to as comparative negligence. If comparative negligence applies to your case, then any damages you recover may be reduced by the percentage of negligence attributable to you.
Accident cases involving motor vehicles can get very complicated, very quickly. You may be saving yourself much hardship by contacting a personal injury lawyer, so don’t hesitate to contact us for a free case evaluation.
Thanks to our friends and co-contributors from Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their added insight into car accident, personal injury practice.