When you begin seeking compensation for your car accident-related injuries, it will be important to develop a complete and well-founded theory of negligence to support your claim. Essentially, your theory of negligence will be the narrative you promote to the insurance company. Your claim’s legal theory refers to the ideas or principles of negligent action by the at-fault party under which you present your claim.
For example, imagine an intoxicated at-fault driver rear-ends you while you are coming to a complete stop for traffic on the highway. Your legal theory would likely be that the at-fault driver is negligent because he was driving while impaired, in violation of N.C.G.S. § 20-138.1(a), and that he failed to follow at a safe distance, in violation of N.C.G.S. § 20-152. This would be a legal theory of the negligence of the at-fault driver.
While certain theories of negligence are stronger than others, all legal theories should be based on facts that can be proven and supported by the evidence in your claim. More particularly, it would be a mistake to believe that an at-fault driver was intoxicated simply because of the fact that they rear-ended your car. Hundreds of rear-end collisions occur for the simple reason that the at-fault driver is distracted or is following too closely, neither of which require nor support the idea that the driver is intoxicated. It is therefore paramount to the success of your claim that you maintain realistic expectations of what the evidence related to your claim is able to support.
Additionally, the idea that your evidence will be able to support a particular theory of negligence does not and will not ever mean that the evidence will always prove your theory correct.
A theory, whether legal, scientific or otherwise, is a notion or a system of ideas intended to explain something or to help understand why something occurred in a particular manner. Your legal theory for negligence must be supported by the evidence and grounded in reality.
Your theory of negligence is basically your argument as to why the at-fault driver or party should be held responsible. If and when you decide to present your claim directly to the insurance company, most, if not all, insurance adjusters will expect to see a simple yet well-developed theory of negligence supporting your claim for compensation.
To assist you in developing an appropriate and well-founded theory of negligence, review this list of the most common theories of negligence related to car accident claims used by all injury lawyers in North Carolina.