Understanding the legal justification for the “Who was at fault?” inquiry in vehicle accident situations.
It is likely that the drivers involved, their insurance providers, and their attorneys will depend on the legal notion of carelessness in arguing their individual cases when it comes time to establish liability for an automobile accident. As we go, we’ll:
In the context of a case involving an automobile accident, define negligence
Explain how to demonstrate a driver’s negligence
consider your legal obligations when it comes to driving safely, and
examine potential counterarguments to a negligence claim.
Negligence: What Is It?
Negligence is the act of being careless in a way that hurts another else. A person may be negligent in the case of an automobile accident by either acting in a way that was improper (such as speeding or running a red light) or by neglecting to act in a way that was appropriate (for example, failing to yield, not stopping for a pedestrian, or forgetting to turn on headlights while driving at night).
Here’s another perspective on negligence: To prevent hurting other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians, a driver must use reasonable caution. The motorist (and the driver’s auto insurance provider) may be held financially responsible for the victim’s injuries and other losses if the driver is not exercising reasonable caution and causes an accident (damages).
Study up on the fundamentals of carelessness in harm cases.
How to Show Driver Negligence
Any time the cause of an automobile accident is contested, whether through the course of an insurance claim or in court, negligence will come into play.
If you are the plaintiff in an automobile accident case, you must be able to prove all of the following:
The defendant was compelled by law to use reasonable caution. This one is a certainty since it is required by law that drivers use reasonable care when operating their vehicles.
The accused lacked caution. A “breach” (or violation) of the duty of care is what this is known as. According to the legislation, a driver’s behavior is compared to what a “reasonable person” would do in order to determine if they were driving with adequate caution. The defendant has breached the duty of reasonable care if their actions fall short of what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation. Examples of actions that a responsible driver should do include:
making a halt at a red light
keeping an eye out for people who are crossing, and
keeping a safe distance behind the car in front of you.
You were hurt as a result of the defendant’s actions. Paula, for instance, is suing Dan because she says he rear-ended her vehicle and caused neck pain. Paula has to show that the automobile accident, and not some other circumstance, caused her injuries. If Paula injured her neck playing golf the day before the incident, it will be difficult for her to prove that Dan’s actions were to blame for the harm she suffered.
The claimant experienced quantifiable damages. Vehicle damage, grief and suffering, lost income or future earning ability, and injuries are all covered by insurance for car accident victims. The plaintiff is not entitled to any compensation in the absence of any demonstrable damages. For instance, Paula cannot seek reimbursement from Dan if she is not physically hurt, doesn’t lose any time at work as a result of the collision, and has no damage to her vehicle.
The takeaway from this case is that it’s crucial to maintain thorough records of all injuries, medical costs, and property damage if you’re the plaintiff. Find out more about obtaining proof to support your auto accident claim.
What Obligations Is a Driver Under the Law?
Drivers must adhere to the law and use reasonable caution to prevent hurting other road users. But what does this really entail? Let’s examine a few instances.
driving at an appropriate pace. Drivers have a responsibility to maintain a reasonable, cautious speed while on the road, taking into account the traffic, the weather, visibility, and other factors. If, for instance, visibility is poor, the weather is poor, or the situation calls for extra care, even driving the speed limit may be deemed irresponsible (driving by a school where you can expect children to be crossing, for example).
vigilance and maintaining a good gaze. Drivers have a responsibility to remain vigilant and keep a close eye out for other cars, pedestrians, and any road hazards. Drivers are required to notice what a common, responsible person would see. Negligence may be committed if you don’t.
maintaining vehicle control. All times, drivers are obliged to maintain control of their car. If a vehicle loses control for whatever reason—by flipping over or veering off the road, for example—negligence may be assumed.
maintaining and using a vehicle’s equipment correctly. Drivers are responsible for keeping their cars in a safe operating condition. For instance, the brakes and lights must function correctly.
State Law Establishes Driver Responsibilities
The driving conduct that is required of drivers is governed by the motor vehicle regulations of each state. In certain cases, breaking a traffic law results in a “presumption” of carelessness, which requires the defendant to provide proof that they were not negligent.
Examples of actions that might result in a negligence assumption include:
driving when impaired by drink or drugs
breaking right-of-way laws, such as the right-of-way for pedestrians, and
driving against the flow of traffic.
Negligence defenses in a case involving a car accident
In a lawsuit involving an automobile accident, many legal defenses may be used to reduce or eliminate the defendant’s culpability (that is, the amount of compensation the defendant must pay the plaintiff).
For instance, the driver may not be held responsible if a pedestrian crosses into the center of the road and is struck by a vehicle. or could only be obligated to cover a part of the pedestrian’s damages. Find out more about comparative and contributory negligence in instances involving auto accidents.
Obtaining Assistance in a Car Accident Case
Self-handling your auto accident claim may make sense in very certain situations. However, in the majority of cases—including collisions that cause serious injuries or when blame is anything but clear—having a lawyer on your side is essential to obtaining the best outcome. Get advice on how to choose the best attorney for you and your case as well as information on how a lawyer may assist with a car accident claim.
Get Joseph L. Matthews’ book How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim for comprehensive guidance on handling each stage of a car accident claim (Nolo).