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What is negligence in a car accident?

You've probably heard that a driver who is negligent and causes a car accident may be liable for injuries resulting from that accident -- not to mention property damage. But what is negligence, exactly?

Though it's slightly more complicated from a legal perspective, negligence is essentially just carelessness. It means someone had a responsibility to act in a safe and careful manner, he or she failed to do so, and another person was hurt.

Negligence is so important because it means that intent isn't needed. With many crimes or other actions that breach a person's basic rights, the offending party is said to be guilty after intentionally causing that person harm.

In the vast majority of car accidents, though, there is no intent. No one gets in the car and decides it's a good day to run a red light and t-bone a minivan. While there are exceptions to this -- some road rage accidents are intentional, for example -- most accidents happen just because someone didn't do what was reasonably required to drive safely.

For instance, maybe a driver was looking down and texting. He or she didn't see the red light at all. Had the driver seen it, he or she would have stopped, but the distraction caused the car to run the light and hit that minivan.

That driver is still responsible for causing the crash because it would have been easy to avoid if he or she was just careful and smart. If you're injured in an accident like this, it's important to know how negligence may mean you can still seek financial compensation.

Source: FindLaw, "Proving Fault: What is Negligence?," accessed July 14, 2017

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