There are two key parts to every car accident case. The first part is proving that someone caused the car crash and should be held liable for your injuries. The second part is filing for your claim for damages. We discuss your right to damages in another blog (one of the three articles). This article talks about who may be liable for your car accident and why.
What are the main theories of liability in Sebastian and Vero Beach car accident cases?
- Proving negligence requires the following:
- A duty of care. All drivers on Florida’s roads owe a duty to other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians to drive safely and avoid accidents. Drivers are required to follow the traffic laws of Florida. Drivers need to adjust their speed and driving for traffic conditions. Drivers also need to adjust their driving for bad weather such as sunny skies with glare or wet roads.
- A breach of the duty of care. Some of the many ways we show a driver breached their duty of care to you include showing that the driver:
- Drove while intoxicated.
- Drove while they were distracted.
- Violated a traffic law such as prohibitions against speeding, failing to yield, running through red lights, and other violations.
- Drove while they were tired.
- Took inappropriate risks such as turning left in front of you or driving too closely to your car.
- Failed to slow down when the traffic was bumper-to-bumper or failed to slow down when it was raining.
- Many other breaches depending on how the accident occurred.
- A showing that the car accident was the cause of your injuries or the death of a loved one. This part of the case is formally called proximate cause. If you suffer a brain injury, spinal cord damage, broken bones, internal bleeding, soft tissue injuries, or any other injuries – you need to show that those injuries were due to the accident. In most cases, we are able to show this proximate cause through your testimony and the medical reports of the doctors who treat you. This evidence begins by showing that you did not have these injuries before the car crash. Your physicians can usually state that a car crash is the type of accident that would reasonably be expected to cause the type of injuries you have or to kill an occupant of a car.
- Product liability cases. In some cases, your car accident may be due to defective auto parts such as bad brakes, faulty fuel lines, airbags that malfunction, or other defects. Manufacturers of cars and car parts have an affirmative duty to ensure their products are safe from design and workmanship defects. They must provide warnings about any known dangers. If cars are subject to recalls, the manufacturers need to notify the car owners. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of defective car parts are strictly liable (no need to prove negligence) for any accidents they cause and the injuries that result from the accident.
- Vicarious lability. The owners of the car that struck you – if they are different from the driver – are generally liable for any accidents the driver causes. For example, if parents let their son use their car and the son gets into an accident, the parents are liable for any injuries or death that result.
- Dram shop liability. Florida law provides that:
- “A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.
- Governmental liability. The state of Florida, a governmental unit such as Indian River County, or a governmental agency such as the Florida Department of Transportation may be liable for your car accident if they improperly designed a roadway, failed to repair known defects, or failed to warn drivers of known dangers. There are specific time limits on filing a claim against the state. There are unique conditions for filing the claim that our skilled Indian River can accident lawyers can explain.
How do skilled lawyers prove negligence?
In a few cases such as rear-end collisions, the way the accident happened is virtually conclusive evidence that a driver (the driver behind you) caused the accident when he/she struck your car in the rear. In other accidents such as head-on crashes, broadside accidents, sideswipes, merging accidents, and intersection accidents – we work aggressively to show how the accident happened and why the driver who struck you should be held liable for any injuries or deaths that result. We:
- Hire investigators to examine the accident site and speak with any witnesses.
- May hire traffic reconstruction experts to show the accident occurred.
- Conduct discovery. This includes asking written and oral questions to the driver who caused your accident and any witnesses. The answers must be under oath. We also seek any relevant records such as prior repairs to the vehicle, any records that might show a driver was distracted or intoxicated when the accident happened, the police report, and other written evidence.
- Apply the law. We understand the legal arguments that help prove a driver was negligent and the arguments that insurance companies and defense lawyers are likely to assert.
Talk to an experienced Indian River County car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Delay can hurt your case. It’s important to speak with seasoned car crash lawyers so we can investigate your claim and help address your medical issues. At Lulich & Attorneys, our car accident lawyers answer your questions and guide you through each phase of the claims process. We settle most cases but we’re ready to try your case in court when necessary. To schedule an appointment, call us at 772-589-5500 or fill out our contact form. We represent car accident victims on a contingency fee basis.