Car accidents can happen under many circumstances. Primary causes of auto accidents include at least one driver not paying attention or a driver who took a chance—acted impulsively to make a light or make a turn—to beat oncoming traffic. In each instance, there is an at-fault driver.
In Southwest Florida, over the last several years there have been averages of anywhere from 15-30 vehicle crashes per day and nearly 200 per week. Even in the lower crash volume years, the combined averages for Lee County, Collier County, Hendry County, and Charlotte County typically exceed 140 every week.
How to Determine Who is Liable for an Auto Accident
The basic elements of proving liability for personal injuries resulting from a car crash are similar to any negligence claim. Proof is required. To prove that a driver was negligent, and therefore, responsible for damages, several elements must be established.
- Duty—obligation to use reasonable care, drive safely, obey rules of the road, etc.
- Breach—violation of that duty
- Causation—the breach of the duty created a result or effect known as damages
- Damages—actual harm, such as personal injury, financial loss, property damage
The basic elements of negligence are applied in every auto accident claim to assess fault and responsibility for damages. Every element must be satisfied.
Applying these negligence factors, the injury victim must prove with evidence that the driver failed to act reasonably under the circumstances—violation of a traffic law is a good example—which resulted in actual harms and losses.
Cause and effect is critical. Assume the at fault driver is proven negligent, such as running a red light. The breach of duty alone does not create liability if the auto accident did not actually cause injury or other damage. If the victim did not sustain an actual injury or damage caused by the car accident, then no claim exists.
Drivers Have the Duty to Obey the Rules of the Road
Every driver is required to use reasonable care when operating a motor vehicle. Drivers of cars, trucks, vans, and riders of motorcycles, bicycles, and mopeds, share this common requirement. Obeying traffic signals, traffic controls, and following the rules of the road are all examples of exercising reasonable care.
Negligent driving often causes auto accidents. Examples of driving negligence include the following:
- Distracted driving
- Driving too slowly for conditions
- Following too closely behind another driver
- Failing to yield right-of-way
- Running red light
- Running stop sign
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Aggressive driving
If pursuing a claim for personal injury or wrongful death as the result of an auto accident, then “proximate cause” of your personal injury.
Injuries Must be Caused or Aggravated by the Car Accident
Causation refers the cause and effect of the auto accident. In other words, the at-fault driver is liable—responsible to pay for—injuries were were caused by the crash. The injuries must be real. Almost hurt is not an actual injury. Nearly killed—but escaping without harm—is not an injury.
Under Florida law, the injuries suffered may be new harms or aggravation of existing injuries or conditions. If you had a preexisting condition which was made worse because of the auto accident, then you may be eligible for compensation for the full extent of the worsened condition.
Whether the personal injury is new—broken bones, head injury, spine damage, amputation, scarring—or exacerbation of old conditions—disc herniation, back injury, neck injury—the harm must be caused by the crash. While your feelings about the cause and effect are important, Florida law requires a doctor to provide an opinion that the injury or aggravation was caused by the auto crash.
Attorney for Auto Accident Pursues Justice for Injured Persons
Every car crash is a frightening situation. When serious injuries are caused by a wreck, then your primary focus is on getting better and re-building your life. Consulting an experienced attorney for auto accident is an important part of making sure you are moving in the right direction with respect to compensation for your expenses, pain and suffering, and needs.
Fort Myers accident attorney David Harris is an experienced lawyer and litigator representing injured persons who have been harmed in vehicle crashes. Serving the injured in Southwest Florida, including Lee County, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, Estero, Bonita Springs, and surrounding areas, David provides his legal services on a no recovery no fee basis—and your initial consultation is free. David personally represents you and pursues justice seeking the most compensation available under your circumstances, doing so with the skill of a trial lawyer since 1995.
Importantly, David values his clients. Every client has his or her questions answered, phone calls accepted or client promptly called back, and stays informed and involved in the auto accident claim. Your opinions matter and are welcome. David meets you in person and is also available by calling the office or his cell phone—so when you need to talk to your attorney you will have the opportunity to do so.