It’s easy to underestimate the potential costs associated with a terrible motor vehicle collision until you experience one firsthand. For those who wind up hurt in car crashes, civil lawsuits often become necessary to recoup their losses. Insurance policies may not offer adequate coverage to offset all of the medical costs and property damage you incur, to say nothing of your lost wages while you recover from your injuries.
However, to bring a personal injury claim against another person, you must first establish some degree of negligence on the part of that individual or prove that you were hurt because of their wrongful acts. Wrongful acts involve the deliberate breaking of the law, while negligence may involve unintentional lawbreaking or bad decision-making.
Negligence can be a confusing concept for many people, so familiarizing yourself with how the law and insurance companies view negligence can help you make more informed decisions about your personal injury claim.
Were the actions of the other driver not what a reasonable person would do?
Negligence involves making a decision that is outside what a reasonable person would do in any given scenario. Any insurance company evaluating the validity of a claim will explore whether either party made unreasonable decisions that could constitute neglect. It is possible for a number of reactions to be reasonable or unreasonable in any given situation.
In other words, negligence is largely a subjective concept that changes from situation to situation. When a person makes a decision that the average person would consider dangerous or questionable in any given circumstance, you may have grounds to claim negligence.
There’s a fine line between negligence and wrongful acts
People get hurt every day by the bad decisions of others. Sometimes, those bad decisions are outright criminal. Other times, those decisions are simply foolish or neglectful. Certain decisions while driving can be both wrongful and negligent.
For example, texting while driving is against the law in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C., meaning that even drivers who have crossed state lines should know it’s not legal to do so. However, even if texting while driving were not a wrongful act that already opened up the other driver to a personal injury claim, it would surely also be a form of negligence.
The average person would agree that choosing to text and drive is dangerous and increases the risk of a collision. The same is true of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, most people would agree that driving while very tired isn’t safe either, even though there’s no way to test for exhaustion. When a driver engages in a behavior that most people would consider unsafe, they have likely been negligent and have thereby opened themselves up to civil action from anyone they hurt.