Damages for Negligence in a Car Accident

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Damages for negligence in causing a car accident can often increase the total amount of compensation awarded to an injured party. While negligence is not often immediately recognized or factored into damage negotiations or awards without proof, when apparent it can have a significant impact.

Negligence Explained

The legal world defines negligence as behavior that falls below the normal standard of care. Acting negligently does not have to include a complete disregard for rules. It is enough for a person to merely not behave as he out to have done. A comparison about a person’s behavior is made against that of a normal, prudent person. For example, a normal person would not exceed the speed limit by more than ten miles per hour during a rain storm, if he exceeds the limit at all. A driver speeding by fifteen miles above the speed limit may be considered to have behaved negligently.

At Fault States and Negligence

Before negligence can be considered in an auto accident, the state must be an “at fault” state, meaning that one party can be identified as responsible for causing the accident. Many states are “no fault” auto accident cases, which prohibit identifying one party as the cause of the accident. In no fault states, negligence will not affect a damage award.

Proof of Negligence

It is not merely enough for an injured party to claim negligence, he must also prove that negligence occurred. This can be done through evidence of the facts of the case and comparisons to normal driving standards in the area under the same weather conditions at the time of the accident. Sometimes, aspects of the other party themselves, such as their age or medical conditions, can be used to prove negligence.

Impact on Damage Awards

When negligence is proven and permitted to be considered in damage awards, a jury or judge can increase the amount of damages awarded to the injured party. These awards would be part of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and mental distress, because they are not based on an expense.

However, it must be noted that identifying negligence often leads to the injured party think that the other party will be punished for their negligence. These types of damages are referred to as punitive damages, and are outlawed in many states.

Obtaining Legal Help

If you are involved in a car accident and believe the other driver acted negligently, seek legal advice. A lawyer will discuss with you how proof of negligence can impact your damage award.