The Fundamental Requirements of a Claim for Damages
If you suffer an injury in a motor vehicle accident—one involving a car, truck, motorcycle, bus, train, streetcar, or light rail—you may have a claim for financial compensation. What must you prove to successfully recover a monetary award for your losses? Though you can surely take legal action against someone who intentionally causes you injury with a motor vehicle, almost all legal claims relating to motor vehicle accidents are based on a theory of negligence.
What Is Negligence?
To secure damages in a personal injury claim based on negligence, you must show three things:
- The defendant (the person from whom compensation is sought) failed to act as a reasonable person would (in other words, they “breached the duty of care”);
- The breach of the duty of care caused an accident; and
- As a result of the accident, you suffered actual losses.
The Duty of Care
As personal injury law has evolved over the centuries, it has imposed a duty on all persons in society to exercise reasonable care in all their actions. Among other things, that duty of care applies to driving a car, maintaining property, and designing and manufacturing consumer products. The laws do not specifically identify what qualifies as reasonable conduct—that’s typically determined by a jury.
To successfully prove that the defendant’s carelessness caused an accident, you must show that the accident would not have occurred had the defendant exercised reasonable care. In addition, you must demonstrate that the accident was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care.
Losses covered by insurance are not considered actual losses. In addition, if the accident caused no depreciation in the value of property and you had no physical injuries or lost wages, then you may not have a claim for compensation.
Contact the Law Office of Howard D. Popper
For a free initial consultation to discuss your options after a motor vehicle accident, contact our office online or call 973-993-8787 to set up an appointment. We have offices in Morristown and Newton. Currently, all our client communications are by phone, text message, and online videoconference. We handle all motor vehicle accident claims on a contingent fee basis. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.