A person can sue for negligence in a car accident. In fact, most car accident lawsuits filed are due to a driver’s carelessness or negligence, because intentional acts are not involved. Auto accidents are rarely intentional because few people really intend to get into one.
Negligence is defined as the failure to use ordinary care. In the case of an auto accident, negligence means that a driver failed to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable person would do in the circumstances, or took action that a reasonable person would not under the circumstances. Negligence may also stem from an omission or failure to act.
Some of the most common causes of auto accidents linked to negligence are the following:
- Driving while distracted due to texting while driving or using a cell phone
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Drowsy driving
- Excessive speeding, running red lights or stop signs, or failing to obey other traffic laws
- Failure to properly maintain the vehicle
- Sudden stops, swerving, or other failures to maintain control of the vehicle
Another type of negligence is gross negligence. Gross negligence may be defined as the failure to exercise even slight care or diligence and that leads to personal injury or property damage. In other words, the defendant was not just careless, but reckless. As a general rule, punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant found to be grossly negligent.
In New York, the bar for allowing an injured person to recover punitive damages is extremely high and depends on the specifics of the particular case. Punitive damages are generally only awarded when the defendant’s conduct is found to be particularly malicious or willful.
In a 2007 landmark case, New York’s Court of Appeals observed:
“Punitive damages are permitted when the defendant’s wrongdoing is not simply intentional but evince[s] a high degree of moral turpitude and demonstrate[s] such wanton dishonesty as to imply a criminal indifference to civil obligations”. (Ross v Louise Wise Serv., Inc., 8 NY3d 478, quoting Walker v Sheldon, 10 NY2d 401.)
Proving negligence in an auto accident is the bottom line. New York is one of 13 states that recognizes pure comparative fault. The comparative negligence statute (New York Civil Practice Law and Rules §§1411, et seq.) states that when both the plaintiff and the defendant were negligent to some degree, the court must determine each party’s percentage of fault and award damages “in proportion to the attributable conduct.”
Car accident lawsuits are typically filed for personal injuries and property damage.
If a person was involved in a car accident caused by another person’s carelessness or negligence, he or she has the right to be compensated for any personal injuries and property damage. In most car accident claims, these monetary damages usually cover such costs as medical expenses, lost wages and mechanic repair fees.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer is recommended prior to filing a car accident claim. People who work with a lawyer increase their chances of receiving fair compensation.