Car Crashes: Do I have a case?

Car CrashUnfortunately, many of us will at some point be injured in a car accident.  Afterwards, especially if you think that the other drive was at fault, you might wonder “do I have a case?”  Let’s look at the legal requirements for “having a case” and then let’s talk about them the way real people talk.

In legal jargon, in order to make a legal recovery in an automobile accident, the injured person has to establish the following:  1.  The other driver was negligent.  2.  That other driver’s negligence proximately cause harm to you.  3.  You suffered actual harm.

What does all this actually mean?  Negligence simply means that someone did something he or she should not have done or did not do something that he or she should have done.  We have all taken driver’s education in high school and have studied the Rules of the Road.  The Rules of the Road is one of the most important resources for determining if a driver was “negligent.”  For instance, did the other driver run a stop sign?  Did the other driver turn left in front of you as you were approaching the intersection?  Was he speeding?  Talking on his cell phone?  If you can demonstrate that the other driver violated the Rules of the Road, you are on your way to showing that he was negligent.

The requirement that you suffered harm or an injury of some sort is self-explanatory and does not require much discussion.  It is important to realize that the types of damage under Illinois law typically relate to medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of normal life and, perhaps, disfigurement.  A more thorough explanation of the different types of damages will be explored in later posts…so stay tuned!

The final requirement, proximate cause, is a legal concept that is much debated and often misunderstood.  Many volumes of law books have been dedicated to figuring out this concept.  In many car collision cases, it is easily established because it is readily apparent; for instance, you broke your ankle when the other driver crashed into you.  That is not always the case, however.  I like to think of “proximate cause” as a bridge connecting the at-fault driver’s wrongful actions (negligent behavior, i.e., running a stop sign) to your injuries.  Most lawsuits are won or lost on this bridge.  There must be a reasonable connection between the negligent behavior and your resulting injury.  Put another way, you must walk the negligent behavior across the bridge and connect it to your injury.  If the negligent behavior can not be connected to your injury, you will not have a case.  If you can make the connection, then you will have a case.

If we at Prince Law Firm can be of assistance you, please feel free to call us.