New York residents who take legal action to recover damages after being injured in car accidents usually base their lawsuits on alleged acts of negligence. In order to prove a case based on the common law principle of negligence, they must establish that the driver who caused the accident owed them a duty of care that was not met. They must also prove, based on a preponderance of the evidence, that they sustained their injuries as a direct consequence.
Establishing that the defendant in a motor vehicle accident lawsuit owed the plaintiff a duty of care is not usually a major hurdle as all drivers are expected to do all that they reasonably can to protect other road users from harm. Proving that this duty went unmet could also be straightforward if the defendant was charged with a crime such as being cited for committing a moving violation or driving while intoxicated.
When police reports do not provide evidence of obvious negligence, experienced personal injury attorneys may have the vehicle the defendant was driving inspected. These inspections could uncover indications of neglect and reveal that crucial safety systems were not functioning properly when the accident took place. Inspectors could also recover the information stored on automobile data recorders.
Drivers may be considered negligent even if they break no traffic laws, and their vehicles are in good working order. This could happen if medical records reveal that they were affected by prescription drugs may have impaired their ability to operate their vehicles safely, or they were unable to see clearly because they were not wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses. Attorneys may also argue that driving at speeds well within posted limits is negligent and reckless in severe weather conditions or on roads with damaged surfaces or that are covered with debris.