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How Is Negligence Determined in a Car Accident?

Posted on September 3, 2018

Alabama is a “fault” or “tort” car accident state. This means the driver or other party that is at-fault for the car accident will be the one responsible for paying damages, through his or her auto insurance company. It is often up to police officers, crash investigators, and insurance companies to determine fault for a car accident. They do so by identifying who was negligent and how that negligence may have caused the collision. Here’s how the process might look after an Alabama car accident.

Identify Parties Involved in the Accident

First, police officers will write down the names and information of all parties directly involved in the accident. This may involve one, two, or more drivers, their passengers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and bystanders. The reporting officer may give a preliminary opinion as to who was at fault for the crash based on evidence and statements gathered at the scene. Police officers will also gather statements from eyewitnesses who saw the accident.

After the initial police report, further investigation may identify other parties who may have contributed to the accident and injuries. For example, an inspection of the wrecked vehicle may find a defective seatbelt came unlatched at the time of the collision, pointing toward the seatbelt manufacturer as a possible negligent party. Once investigators pinpoint all the parties that may have played a role in the victim’s injuries, a lawyer can begin to piece the case together.

Define Duties of Care

The next step is to determine which parties owed duties of care to the accident victim at the time of the crash. The most obvious example is the other driver. All drivers owe duties of care to others on the roadway to drive safely and reasonably prevent accidents. If one driver breaches this duty by breaking the law, driving distracted, speeding, or otherwise being reckless behind the wheel, he or she is the negligent party.

Duties of care vary depending on the party in question and the circumstances of the crash. An auto manufacturer, for instance, has different duties of care than drivers. All parties involved in an accident – a driver, part manufacturer, the city, etc. – owe different duties of care to the accident victim. A lawyer can help identify these duties and find out if there were any breaches that caused the wreck.

Find Evidence of a Breach of Duty

Discovering evidence of a breach of duty is the main way to determine negligence in a car accident. Any breach of duty that causes or contributes to a car accident could assign fault for the crash to that person. Examples include texting and driving, drunk driving, excessive speeds, or disobeying traffic signs. To have a case against someone for a car accident, one must show duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.

Duty and breach of duty deal with the question of negligence. Causation deals with a link between an act of negligence and the car accident. Damages refer to the losses you suffered because of the crash, such as medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. With these four elements, you have the groundwork for a personal injury claim in Alabama. Use a lawyer to connect the elements of your case together for the best odds of obtaining financial recovery.

Prove Your Case

As the victim of a car accident, you don’t have to determine negligence on your own. Hire an attorney and you instantly gain access to a team of investigators and other professionals who can analyze your crash. A lawyer can take care of determining negligence, proving breach of duty, and filing your claim through the proper outlets before the statute of limitations ends. A Birmingham car accident lawyer is the easiest way for car accident victims to answer the negligence question and secure compensation for damages in Alabama.