What You Will Have to Prove to Win a Car Accident Settlement

What Does Negligence Mean in a Car Crash?It may seem obvious—the other driver ran a red light, smashed into your car, and left you seriously injured—shouldn’t he be required to pay your damages? In theory, yes. But the legal reality is that you will still have to prove a number of points in order to collect the full amount you are entitled to from his insurance company.

And many car accident cases are not as clear-cut as our example, our Indianapolis car accident attorney says. What if there is a question about who was at fault? What if the other insurance company claims you are not as injured as you say you are?

We will walk you through the process of collecting evidence and proving negligence.

What Does it Mean to Be Negligent?

Under the law, negligence means that a person had a responsibility to behave in a certain manner to keep others safe and failed to do so. As a result, a person was harmed. In a car accident case, a person could be considered negligent for doing something he shouldn’t have done (speeding, drinking and driving) or for NOT doing something he should have done (stopping at a stop sign, yielding the right-of-way). In order to prove negligence in a car crash claim, you will have to demonstrate the following four factors:

  1. Duty of Care. You must first establish that the driver had a responsibility to act in a reasonable manner to protect others from harm. This principle is assumed when it comes to driving a car, so this point is usually easy to prove in a car crash claim.
  2. Breach of Duty. Next, you must prove that the other driver failed to uphold his duty to keep others safe. This can be more difficult to prove, but if there is evidence that he was speeding, ran a red light, or was intoxicated, that will prove your case.
  3. Causation. It is not enough to prove that the driver ran a red light. You must also prove that because he ran the light, he hit your car and the impact of the collision directly caused your injuries.
  4. Damages. Finally, you must show that your injuries have led to a personal financial loss. This could mean medical bills, time away from work, and damage to the car. You will have to produce evidence of these damages.

While this might seem like a complicated process, it is actually fairly straightforward. When you work with a car accident attorney to fight for compensation, he will take care of these steps for you. The case becomes more difficult when there is a question of fault.

Comparative Fault in Indiana

The key to a strong car accident claim is proving that the other driver was 100 percent at fault (step 2 above). His lawyer or insurance adjuster will likely argue that you played some part in the crash. For example, if he turned left in front of you but you were speeding, you could be found to share the blame.

Under Indiana’s comparative fault law, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of blame assigned to you. If the court finds you to be 20 percent to blame, for example, you will only be awarded 80 percent of your damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer will gather and present evidence to support your claim that the other driver was 100 percent at fault.

Key Pieces of Evidence

Gathering important records, talking to witnesses, and acquiring surveillance photos or videos will be vital in proving fault and damages. Your attorney will likely collect the following key pieces of evidence:

  • Police reports
  • Witness statements
  • Photos or videos of the accident
  • Weather reports
  • Driving records
  • Medical bills
  • Wage and earning statements
  • Accident and economic expert statements
James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller