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  • Writer's pictureThe Oakes Firm Publishing

What You Need to Prove in a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuit

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

Motor vehicle accident lawsuits traditionally fall under general negligence (or carelessness) principles. In every negligence case, you have to prove four elements in order to recover money:

1. Duty - The Defendant Had a Duty to You

Duty is a legal concept that a person or entity is required to adhere to some standard of care for your wellbeing. In the context of motor vehicles, everyone owes a duty to obey all traffic laws and – in some case – follow industry standards or their employer’s safety instructions.

2. Breach of Duty - The Defendant Breached Their Duty to You

Breach of Duty is when a driver fails to adhere to a Duty they had to you. For example, this occurs when a defendant operates their vehicle carelessly, violates a traffic law, or fails to abide by industry standards or their employer’s instructions.

3. Causation - The Defendant’s Breach of Their Duty Caused Your Injuries/Damages

Causation simply means that it was the defendant’s Breach of Duty that caused you to be injured or damaged.

4. Damages - You Were Injured

Damages means that you were hurt in some way. There are many types of damages recoverable under the law, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, scarring/disfigurement, loss of life’s pleasures, loss of past and future income, and costs for past and future medical care.


Please understand that this is an oversimplified overview of the law as it relates to motor vehicle accidents and negligence. Even a simple lawsuit may have many nuances that only an experienced attorney can address. In many cases, The Oakes Firm hires professional “experts” to help prove your claims – e.g., a crash reconstructionist; a life care planner; a vocational rehabilitation specialist; and an economist.



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