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How Illegal Actions Factor Into Motor Vehicle Accident Claims

Whenever a motor vehicle accident lawyer files a claim on behalf of a client, liability is a central issue. Frequently, defendants aren't entirely liable because motor vehicle accident law recognizes that two or more parties may have contributed to an incident. Partial liability can significantly reduce the value of a claimant's compensation.

One notable factor when it comes to liability is the potential illegality of a defendant's actions in the moments leading up to an accident. Illegal conduct might change the liability picture in these four ways.

Negligence Per Se

In injury law, any violation of a statute that contributes to an injury the law is trying to prevent creates a condition known as negligence per se. For example, reckless driving laws are meant to protect people from car accidents. If someone was driving 70 mph in a 35 mph zone at the moment of an auto accident, most reasonable people would believe this contributed significantly. Even if an accident hadn't happened, this is a chargeable criminal offense.

Why Does Negligence Per Se Matter?

Negligence per se lowers the bar regarding what a claimant has to prove. Normally, you'd have to not only prove that the defendant's driving was the proximate cause of the accident, but you'd then have to show that their actions demonstrated more liability than yours. However, negligence per se simplifies the case for a motor vehicle accident lawyer. If an attorney can show that a defendant's conduct was illegal, then they only have to prove that the illegal action caused the incident in question.

Should You Wait for a Conviction?

You don't have to wait for a conviction to pursue a claim on this basis. American law draws a distinction between criminal and civil proceedings, and injury and accident claims fall squarely into the civil domain. However, there is an argument for waiting for a conviction just because it looks worse for the defense since a conviction makes negligence per se close to irrefutable.

You should discuss this kind of strategy issue with a motor vehicle accident lawyer before you file a claim, though. An attorney might conclude that the conduct was so egregious that waiting wouldn't benefit your case.

Pursuing a Claim Based on Negligence Per Se

When your attorney files the claim, they will outline the legal logic in the demand letter. The defendant's insurance company will then have to decide if it believes trying to refute the argument is worth the bother. In many cases, negligence per se looks bad enough that an insurer will prefer to settle rather than risk a trial.

Turn to a firm such as Endres Law Firm to learn more.