When someone else’s careless or reckless actions cause injuries, that person holds accident liability. The party must have owed the injured party a duty of care, and the victim must establish that a breach of this duty led to damages. Determining who is at fault can be fairly easy in many personal injury cases, but in other circumstances, it may require some deeper investigative work.
Establishing Fault in a Personal Injury Claim
One of the first steps to establish accident liability is considering if a duty of care was owed to the victim and by whom. This typically refers to a relationship between the parties involved.
For instance, in a personal injury case involving a car accident, there would be a relationship between drivers who share the road. It could also include a motorist and a pedestrian. The duty of care means that the person is expected to act in a reasonable manner, so as to prevent injury to others. In this example, drivers owe others a duty of care to drive in a safe manner to prevent accidents.
When this duty is breached (which means some type of negligent action occurred), the negligent party could be found liable for any damages that the breach caused. The circumstances of breaching the duty of care vary. With auto accidents it could include traffic violations such as speeding, alcohol impairment or going through a red light. Distracted driving is another example.
Although liability can be established by showing a duty of care was owed and it was breached, there won’t be a case unless the victim can establish that the other party’s negligence caused injuries or other damages. Generally, personal injury claims are filed if serious injuries have been sustained. Examples of significant injuries include:
- brain injuries;
- deep lacerations;
- severed or crushed limbs;
- whiplash; and
- broken bones.
Other Elements to Consider in a Personal Injury Claim
Many of these cases aren’t clear-cut – especially when other elements are factored in, such as more than one party holding accident liability. For instance, a driver may have been driving recklessly, but if the tires are found to be defective, then the tire manufacturer also could be considered liable for damages.
When the injured person is found to bear some responsibility, it is another important element to consider in a claim. This is more common in traffic accidents, but it certainly could apply to other personal injury cases. And it impacts recovery of damages – in Texas, modified comparative negligence dictates that individuals holding more than 50 percent fault cannot file for damages. And those holding 50 percent or less will see their damages reduced by their percentage of fault.
Whenever injuries are serious and/or accident liability isn’t clear, talk with an attorney. The Dallas Law Office of Julie Johnson can assist clients hoping to determine the viability of a claim and who is liable for injuries sustained.
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