Negligence Claims in Auto Insurance

If you violate a statute or an ordinance, such as breaking a speed limit or going through a red light, you may be negligent. But negligence may be proved even when a driver has not broken an ordinance or statute.
In most cases, it’s a simple question of fact as to whether the person charged with negligence failed to use that care which an ordinary or prudent person would have used under the same or similar circumstances.
In theory, the law of negligence is simple.

But factually your automobile accident claim may be complex. It is one thing to analyze the facts in your case, but don’t try to be your own lawyer. This book can not make a lawyer out of you any more than reading a simple handbook would make a trained engineer out of a novice.

The simple but misunderstood rule of contributory negligence. In every state of the United States (except Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin), we have what some people consider a harsh rule of negligence law. The rule says that if the claimant is guilty of any negligence which contributes to the accident, he has no claim.

Analyze the above statement carefully. If the claimant is guilty of any negligence which contributes to the accident, he has no claim.

In forty-three out of forty-eight states, in order for you to have a valid claim, you must be able to prove that you were not guilty of any “contributory negligence.” Specifically, “contributory negligence” is negligence which contributes to the happening of the accident.

Therefore, you must be prepared to prove:
1. That the person against whom you make the claim was negligent; and
2. That you were not guilty of even the slightest negligence which contributed to the accident.
This point is not as well understood as it should be, but it is vital.
Example
Would you say that you have a good claim if you had an auto-mobile accident with a man who was more to blame than you? Suppose the other man was 60 per cent to blame and you were 40 per cent to blame. Under the rule of contributory negligence, your claim would be marked “no good.”

If you are only 10 per cent or 20 per cent to blame, you would still be “out in the cold” because of contributory negligence.


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