What is Auto Negligence?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 20 March 2020
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Auto negligence means operating a motor vehicle in a manner that falls below the accepted standard of a person with the same education, background, or experience. It is applied to accident claims that cause injury or damage to another person. Auto negligence is used to determine who is liable for the costs incurred after a vehicle accident.

Negligence might be proved if a motor vehicle driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the wreck occurred. Excessive speed is another factor that can lead to an auto negligence claim, along with inattention and use of a cell phone while driving in some jurisdictions. When companies are sued for auto negligence, it is sometimes based on improper vehicle maintenance or failure to train drivers of company vehicles.

To prove auto negligence, an attorney uses the facts of the accident and police reports that may include diagrams of the accident scene and photographs. Witnesses to the collision could testify in court about what they saw. A person claiming auto negligence typically offers evidence to show that he or she suffered a loss or injury from the accident, and that the other driver acted recklessly.


An auto negligence lawsuit usually outlines how the victim suffered physically or financially. Claims might include lost wages, if injuries prevented someone from working after the collision. If the injury is permanent or disabling, the plaintiff may claim loss of future wages and the need for continuous medical care. Life-changing injuries usually garner higher jury awards than minor injuries like whiplash. All these factors can be used by a jury to determine the extent of loss and whether the defendant was negligent.

Those who sue under negligence laws typically try to recover attorney fees and expenses related to the lawsuit. These expenses might include the cost of an expert witness or an accident reconstructionist who testifies in court, including travel expenses. The cost of filing the suit may also include money the attorney paid to prepare exhibits, such as enlarged photos of the accident scene or diagrams.

In some regions, juries use comparative negligence to determine the percentage of fault for each driver. They may consider whether the plaintiff could have done something to avoid the wreck, such as braking or swerving. In these cases, a jury commonly weighs the percentage of each driver's negligence to determine a monetary award.


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