Previously we discussed proving liability in a typical personal injury case. Here will discuss specifically how to prove fault in a car accident using case law and legal principles specific to traffic accidents.
Most injury victims filing lawsuits over car accident negligence are entitled to recover damages for injuries. So this includes the person called a plaintiff. But the plaintiff has the burden to show that the defendant or defendants– the driver that caused the accident was negligent.
Negligence could be established as a violation of the CVC– the California Vehicle Code. But it could be due to the other driver’s behavior falling below the reasonable standard of care. So the plaintiff must prove the other driver failed to use reasonable methods while operating the vehicle.
Examples include: Whitford v. Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. (1955) 136 Cal.App.2d 697. Because of that case, the injured party must show the other driver’s negligence was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.
In order to be found liable for a car wreck, the defendant or defendants must have been negligent in the operation, maintenance or lending of a motor vehicle.
First of all, people must behave reasonably. So there is a social responsibility to act intelligently. Most important for liability to attach is that the violation of your rights caused injury. And these must be damages that can become quantified.
Case law holds that the accident must be the cause of your harm, as seen in Clarke v. Hoek (1985) 174 Cal.App.3d 208; Peter W. v. San Francisco Unified School District (1976) 60 Cal.App.3d 814.) Legal doctrines hold that the cause of the injuries must be the actual and “proximate cause.”
So your wreck must be the “legal cause” of your injuries. If something else injured you, then the defendant is found to be not at fault. Get it?
Furthermore, this section of tort law mandates that the plaintiff shows:
To escape liability, the defendant must prove:
The incident was not a substantial factor, or foreseeable. Or the defendant must prove it was an independent intervening act that caused the plaintiff's injuries or death.
Example: Mitchell v. Gonzales (1985) 54 Cal.3d 1041; “. . . negligence must be substantial factor” in causing plaintiff’s injuries.
Pure comparative negligence under state law says plaintiff’s negligence offsets recovers. The offset is based on the degree of negligence shown by the defendant.
This state has a pure form of comparative negligence – so even if the plaintiff has some fault, they can still recover for what they are not at fault. But your award gets reduced in proportion to degrees of fault, as seen in Li v. Yellow Cab Co. (1975) 13 Cal.3d 804.)
Scenarios that Include Negligence Under California's Vehicle Laws:
Below, find a list of some common cases of driver negligence for which damages could be recovered.
Proving your car accident case is not as easy as it seems. You must determine the other driver failed to use reasonable attention/care while operating the vehicle. But some cases are more comfortable to prove than others. The above examples show you the many scenarios possible.
But having a great lawyer significantly increases the chances of a victory for you. Contact Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC to learn more at (213) 596-9642.