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What Must Be Proven in a Car Accident Lawsuit to Establish Liability?

If you’ve been in a car accident, you know there are a lot of things to think about and a lot of moving pieces. A big concern in these cases is always liability: how will you prove the other party was at fault so you can get the compensation you deserve? Cheyenne, Wyoming automobile injury attorneys with experience in this area of law are the best placed to help you prove your case.

From Automobile Injury Attorneys in Cheyenne, Wyoming: What’s Needed to Prove Liability

The Elements of Liability

Any time you need to prove liability, you have to show four basic elements. The first element is a duty of care. This just means that a person or entity was responsible to treat you in a certain way. In car accident cases, this element is pretty easy to prove. Everyone who chooses to get in a car and drive it has a duty of care to other people on the road. They fulfill his duty by following traffic laws and by not doing things like driving impaired.

The second element to prove is that there was a breach of this duty. This is where things start to get more difficult. You will have to show that the other driver in the accident failed to follow the law, drove impaired or distracted, or otherwise failed to uphold their duty of care to you. Once that has been shown, you need to show causation. Causation, as you might guess from the word itself, means that the failure to uphold the duty of care caused harm to you. In other words, you have to prove that you’ve actually suffered harm because of something the other driver did. It wouldn’t work, for example, to try to sue a driver you saw texting while driving if they didn’t cause an accident or didn’t harm you personally in an accident.

Once you’ve shown duty of care, a breach of that duty, and causation, your last step is to show what your damages and losses actually were. You have to show proof of loss. In other words, even if the other driver caused an accident by failing their breach of duty, and even if that breach of duty was the direct cause of the accident, and you were involved in it, if you can’t show you suffered any actual harm from the accident (no property damage, injury, etc), you can’t prove liability.

The Challenge in Proving These Elements

While some elements are typically easy to prove – often duty of care – some are trickier. You have to provide clear and compelling evidence that the defendant failed to meet the expected standard of care. You’ll need to show that their actions or omissions were unreasonable under the circumstances, such as by showing that they were speeding, distracted, or driving under the influence at the time of the accident. This can be hard to do, especially if the dependent fights back and there’s not a lot of physical evidence or witness accounts to rely upon.

Another key challenge is in establishing causation. Establishing that direct link between the defendant’s breach of duty and your injuries can be harder than it might seem. The other side might, for instance, argue that a pre-existing condition is to blame for your condition: that you were actually injured before or after the accident and are trying to blame the injuries on the defendant, or that you contributed to your own injuries in some way.

And in some cases, there can even be challenges in proving your damages. The other side might argue that damage to your car was pre-existing, for instance, or that you haven’t been injured as badly as you claim. While medical records can go a long way towards showing your injuries, you might be surprised at some of the tricks insurance companies can pull – seemingly out of a hat, at times – to argue that a person wasn’t hurt or wasn’t hurt as badly as they claim. Cheyenne, Wyoming automobile injury attorneys have a lot of experience in dealing with these challenges and will go to work right away to protect you.

What You Need to Make Your Case

Proving Duty of Care

This is usually going to be established by going over existing laws, regulations, or standards that define the responsibilities of drivers (and occasionally others). For example, in a car accident case, usually traffic laws and driving regulations establish that a driver owed a duty of care to operate their vehicles safely and obey traffic signals: but if someone else was to blame, you might need other evidence. Say that your accident happened because a traffic light failed. In that case, what you might need is to show that city government had a responsibility to maintain the traffic lights in good working order.

Proving Breach of Duty

To prove this, you’ll often need things like the “black box” from the other driver’s car (which records things like speed), video evidence from dash cams or traffic light cameras, witness testimony, etc. Sometimes expert testimony will help if you don’t have a lot of other evidence, as experts in accident reconstruction can analyze the scene and then demonstrate how the defendant’s actions caused the accident. For example, they may be able to determine if the defendant was speeding or distracted based on things like tire marks.

Police reports provide an official account of the incident, and since they include the officer’s observations about road conditions, vehicle positions, and often who the officer feels was to blame based on a first-hand investigation, these can be very helpful.

Proving Causation

Remember: causation is demonstrating that direct link between the defendant’s breach of duty and the injuries you’ve suffered or losses you’ve endured. Medical experts can testify, for example, to show how the injuries you’ve sustained are consistent with the type of impact caused by the accident and why these injuries more likely than not resulted from the defendant’s actions rather than other potential causes. Additional evidence, such as surveillance footage, photographs of the accident scene, and black box data from the vehicles involved can also help recreate the sequence of events and provide objective data.

If the other side is fighting hard, you might also need evidence such as your most recent car maintenance records to show that your vehicle was in good condition before the accident, for example, or the testimony of a colleague that your mobile phone or laptop computer had been in good working order before the accident damaged them. Your lawyer will help you identify everything you need.

Proving Damages

With damages, you’re showing not just that you were injured or suffered a loss, but also exactly to what extent. You’ll need to show your medical expenses, any lost wages you have suffered, proof of pain and suffering, and evidence of physical losses, such as the loss of your car or personal items. Medical records and bills are very important here, of course, as are employment records and testimony.

There’s a lot that goes into proving liability, but with an experienced auto accident lawyer on your side, it can be done. Contact us now at Ochs Law Firm ​for a free consultation, and let us get to work ​getting you the compensation you deserve.

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Our experienced Wyoming personal injury lawyer, Jason E. Ochs will fight to help you recover proper compensation in a class action, pharmaceutical, and medical cases throughout multiple states. Contact us today.

Jason E. Ochs

Jason began his legal career in 2002 with a national multi-district litigation law firm in Newport Beach, California. There he worked on a variety of high-profile, complex-litigation projects including pharmaceutical and medical-device litigation across the country.

The Ochs Law Firm epitomizes professionalism and commitment to all of our clients, regardless of the size of the case or the might of the Defendant. We practice in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and California in personal injury litigation, medical malpractice, defective products, class action lawsuits, Qui Tam lawsuits, litigation across multiple districts, bad faith insurance, and civil litigation.

We look forward to providing top quality service and representation for you and your family.