Is the Other Driver Negligent?
Auto accidents account for over 2 million injuries in the United States each year, adding up to nearly $231 billion dollars in direct and indirect costs. But money isn’t the only factor when tallying up the impact of an auto accident. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, then you may be suffering from physical and emotional pain long after the fact. As the victim, you may also have grounds for an auto accident lawsuit if your accident was caused by a negligent driver. Proving negligence in an auto collision isn’t always easy. You need to be able to show that the other driver breached what is known as his duty of care. Here’s what you need to know about duty of care when it comes to auto accidents.
The law says a driver must act with a reasonable duty of care when operating a motor vehicle, meaning he has an obligation to act sensibly and wisely when he is driving. As a driver, you owe it to other drivers and pedestrians – essentially anyone you might encounter while driving – to act responsibly. This includes:
- Obeying all motor vehicle laws
- Operating a vehicle appropriately
- Keeping your vehicle well-maintained
These aren’t the only parameters for upholding duty of care. Think of it this way: When you are driving, you are responsible for acting in a way that is consistent with the way that a reasonable person would act. Following the rules of the road, paying attention to other drivers and pedestrians, and keeping your car in good working order are all part of upholding your responsibility as a driver.
If a driver fails to maintain reasonable driving rules, it is called breaching the duty of care. It may also be referred to as negligence. In either case, the driver failed to uphold the rules of the road.
Breaching duty of care means that a driver acted negligently — he failed to do something he should have done or he did something, either intentionally or unintentionally, that caused an accident. It is important to note that negligence does not necessarily mean that a driver intended to cause harm. It just means that the negligence caused the accident. Intent has little to do with personal injury claims, especially in an auto accident lawsuit, since you can be negligent without meaning to create any problems. Examples of breaching the duty of care include:
- Not stopping at a red light
- Failing to use appropriate turn signals
- Speeding or driving recklessly, especially when driving conditions are poor
- Failing to keep your car maintained, such as not replacing broken headlights
Plenty of drivers inadvertently breach their duty of care, but not everyone gets into an accident as a result. You may, for example, drive well above the speed limit when you are trying to make it into work on time. While speeding technically breaks the law, and your duty of care, it does not always lead to problems. Other drivers wouldn’t have grounds to sue you just because you speed on your way to work. However, if your speeding caused someone to veer off the road, when they otherwise wouldn’t have, or your reckless driving resulted in an accident, then there may be grounds for a lawsuit.
Hiring an Attorney
Proving negligence can be tough because so many factors influence auto collisions. The best way to determine whether you can sue an irresponsible driver for negligence is to speak with an attorney about your case. Experienced auto accident lawyers can evaluate your claim and advise you on how to proceed. At Diez-Arguelles & Tejedor, we may be able to assist you with your personal injury claim. Contact our team today to get started.