front driver side of red car damages from crash

Defining Negligence in a Car Accident

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. When the wreck isn’t your fault, you can have your medical expenses repaid. You can also recover the money you lost from missing work. You may even be able to receive money for your lost future income. This can happen when an injury slows down your career advancement.

When insurance companies are unhelpful, you may need to take the matter to court. Personal injury cases mostly revolve around the concept of negligence.

What Is Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?

When describing a car accident, we often focus on what the other driver did wrong. We say things like, “they ran a stop sign,” or “they were looking at their phone.”

To understand negligence in a legal sense, you must consider what the driver failed to do. Here are some examples of negligence in a car accident injury.

Failure to Follow Traffic Law

When someone runs a stop sign, they fail to obey traffic laws. Other examples include speeding, driving recklessly, ignoring traffic lights, and so on.

Failure to Pay Attention

Drivers have a legal responsibility to be alert while on the road. When someone looks at their phone while driving, they fail to properly pay attention. Other examples include eating while driving, playing with the radio, turning around to talk to someone in the back seat, and so on.

Failure to Drive with Caution

Some reckless behaviors are technically legal, or they are at least difficult to prove and charge when illegal. Driving too close to the car ahead of you, taking risky lane changes, or suddenly hitting your brakes could be examples of negligent behavior on the road.

Strict Liability in a Personal Injury Case

Depending on the offense, it may not be necessary to specifically detail all of the defendant’s behavior. Sometimes, you can win a case simply through “strict liability.” For instance, proving that the defendant broke traffic laws can be enough to win your case. Ask your attorney to take a close look at your claim. If the defendant is directly liable, it may be easier to win your case.

Punitive Damages

In a personal injury case, the compensation you receive is called “damages.” Typically, these damages are designed to pay you back for the expenses associated with your injuries.

You can also receive “non-economic” damages in the form of pain and suffering. Essentially, your lawyer can calculate a monetary value for the misery you endured. If you win your case, you could receive this extra compensation.

There is a third category of damages as well. These are called punitive damages. When a defendant is found to have engaged in grossly negligent or outright malicious behavior, the judge may wish to punish them. A civil court can’t throw someone in jail, so the judge can force the defendant to pay more money as a penalty.

Punitive damages are often relevant in a car accident case. A judge may, for example, take offense to someone who drives while intoxicated and force them to pay more in damages.

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, our firm is here to help. Call (916) 571-1550 today for a free consultation, or contact us online.