Accident vs. Negligence. What Is the Difference and Why Does It Matter in a Motor Vehicle Crash?

The terms accident and negligence are sometimes used interchangeably in courts and law, but sometimes with the poor result of a lack of compensation for victims involved in the latter. This is particularly common in traffic collision cases, with the at-fault parties walking away after a severe crash, or even driving away after causing one they ultimately weren’t involved in. Fortunately, you can still file for a compensation claim when you encounter negligent drivers. But how do you differentiate an accident from a negligent action?

Defining an Accident

An accident is an unfortunate incident that a driver could not reasonably foresee or prevent. Proving fault in such a case will be difficult since the driver cannot be held responsible for any injuries or damages caused.

Defining Negligence

Negligence refers to a careless action that results in injury or harm to another person or their property. This means that failure to act accordingly on the road typically falls under negligence, most notably when drivers fail to exercise reasonable care. Listed are some examples of such incidences that can help determine the probable cause. These are especially useful to note and tell your car accident lawyer from websites like, should you decide to go that route.

  • Failure to yield
  • Failure to signal when changing lanes or turning
  • Making illegal turns such as u-turns where it is prohibited
  • Driving vehicles with defects such as faulty brake lights
  • Speeding (that resulted in 287 related fatalities on Colorado’s roads in 2020)

How To Prove Negligence

Motorists who suffer physical harm or experience damage to their property can prove negligence in the following ways:

The Defendant Did Not Exercise a Reasonable Duty of Care

This is often termed as a breach of conduct. If the driver in question fails to act as a reasonable person should, you likely have a strong case for a negligent claim. An example of this is lane violations and DUI/DUID cases, linked to about 268 fatal crashes within the state in 2020 alone.

You Suffered Losses

You are also entitled to compensation if you suffer losses such as vehicle damage, loss of wages, or experience pain and suffering after a crash. These recoverable losses often have quantifiable claims, allowing you to limit your out-of-pocket expenses in the aftermath of a collision.

You Suffered Bodily Harm

Injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes can also help prove negligence, with medical records taken after the incident coming in handy. Examples of injuries sustained could be fractured bones with severe impacts, such as internal injuries standing at a rate of 5.996, according to the Colorado State Highway Safety Report. Other sources of evidence that could help boost your chances of a successful trial include police reports indicating the extent of the crash, witness statements, and work records indicating the reason for dismissal.

If you get into an accident and are not sure whether the harm caused was unintentional or caused by negligence, the above guide will help you determine if you have a possible case for compensation. Remember that you may be required to prove the negligence caused, with evidence of recoverable losses, injuries, and lack of reasonable care going a long way in increasing your chances of a successful claim. Lastly, ensure that you keep a record of supporting statements, whether police records, hospital bills, or family and personal testimonials showing the extent of damage and injuries sustained.

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