What is my case worth if the other driver was texting?
Anyone who watches the news has likely heard, texting while driving has fast become a major source of injuries and deaths across not only South Carolina, but across the country. Numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that nearly 30 percent of all car accidents in the U.S. involve a driver who was texting either during or immediately prior to the accident. Experts believe this number, while already alarming, is actually drastically understated because it relies on self-reporting.
So what happens if you’ve been involved in an accident with someone who was texting while driving? If you’ve suffered damage as a result of the accident, either to your property or person, how do you know how to begin valuing it? Placing a number on any injury can be difficult and especially complex for those without experience. So how do you know what your texting injury case is worth?
The value of any personal injury claim depends on several factors: liability, damages and proof.
The first thing that needs to exist before there can be any claim for damages is legal liability. Luckily, drivers across South Carolina (and the rest of the country) have a legal duty of care towards other motorists. This means that drivers are required to operate their vehicles with an eye towards the safety of others on the road. When a driver engages in conduct like texting behind the wheel, the driver is said to have breached his or her duty of care. This breach is then called negligence and negligence results in liability for the damages that resulted from the negligent conduct.
Once liability is established, the next thing to do is to move on to damages. Though someone may indeed be legally liable after an accident, there can be no personal injury claim without damage. After all, if there’s been no harm, there is nothing to ask a court to award. So what kinds of damages are recoverable? Accident victims are entitled to recover reasonable damages to property, compensation for medical bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. Determining the value of economic damages (lost wages, medical bills, property damage) is usually straightforward and simply a matter of adding things up. It can get more difficult when dealing with more vague categories of damage like pain and suffering, but a skilled lawyer can help give you more specific guidance about your claim. Assuming damages can be shown in any of the above categories, then a claim can proceed against the texting driver.
Sure, you know that the other driver was responsible. They know it too. But knowing isn’t the same thing as proving, at least not in court. Before you can collect any compensation from a personal injury claim you have to have not only liability and damages, but also some evidence to support you claim. An injury victim needs to prove to the court’s satisfaction that the other driver was indeed negligent and that the negligence resulted in the damages alleged. To learn more about auto accidents, click here.