When you are involved in a major car accident, working with an experienced car accident attorney can help you get the compensation you are entitled to. Your attorney will advocate for your best interest and help to gather enough evidence to prove the other driver involved was at-fault. One of the most common ways to prove another driver is at-fault for your accident is by establishing negligence.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is careless conduct that ends up causing harm to another person. In a car accident scenario, a person can be negligent by doing something that he or she should not have done (for example, running a red light or speeding), or by failing to do something that he or she should have done (for example, failing to yield, not stopping for a pedestrian, or forgetting to turn on headlights while driving at night).
Here’s another way of thinking about negligence: A driver must use reasonable care to avoid injuring other motorists, passengers, or pedestrians. If a driver is not reasonably careful, and someone is harmed as a result, the driver (and the driver’s car insurance carrier) can be financially liable for that person’s injuries and other losses (damages).
Learn more about the basics of negligence in an injury case.
Proving a Driver’s Negligence
Negligence will come into play any time fault for a car accident is in dispute, whether as part of the insurance claim process or in court.
In a car accident lawsuit, if you’re the plaintiff, you need to be able to establish all of the following:
The law required the defendant to be reasonably careful. The law requires drivers to use reasonable caution in all facets of vehicle operation, so this one is a given.
The defendant was not careful. This is called “breaching” (or violating) the duty of care. In determining whether a driver was sufficiently careful, the law compares the driver’s conduct with the conduct expected of a “reasonable person.” If the defendant’s behavior falls short of how a reasonable person would have acted under the same circumstances, the defendant has violated the duty of reasonable care. Examples of conduct expected of a reasonable driver include:
- stopping at a red light
- watching for crossing pedestrians, and
- following the vehicle in front at a safe distance.
The defendant’s conduct caused your injuries. For example, Paula is suing Dan, claiming that she suffered neck strain when Dan rear-ended her car. Paula must provide evidence that her injuries resulted from the car accident, not some other event. If Paula hurt her neck the day before the collision while playing golf, she’ll have difficulty establishing that Dan’s conduct caused her injuries.
The plaintiff suffered measurable losses. Car accident victims are entitled to compensation for injuries, lost wages or earning capacity, pain and suffering, and vehicle damage. If there aren’t any provable losses, the plaintiff can’t recover anything. For example, if Paula in the above example doesn’t suffer any physical injury, doesn’t miss any work time because of the accident, and her car sustains no damage, she cannot recover compensation from Dan.
The lesson here is that, if you’re the plaintiff, it’s important to keep complete and detailed records of all injuries, medical expenses, and property damage. Learn more about gathering evidence to help your car accident claim.
What Legal Duties Does a Driver Have?
The law requires drivers to use reasonable care to avoid harming anyone else on the road. But what exactly does this entail? Let’s look at some examples.
Driving at a reasonable speed. Drivers have a duty to drive at a reasonable, prudent speed in light of the existing traffic, road, visibility, and weather conditions. Even driving at the speed limit can be considered negligent if, for example, visibility is low, the weather is bad, or the circumstances warrant particular caution (driving by a school where you can expect children to be crossing, for example).
Vigilance and keeping a proper lookout. Drivers have a duty to be alert and to maintain a careful lookout for other vehicles, pedestrians, and road hazards. Drivers are expected to see the things that an ordinary, prudent person would see. Failure to do so can constitute negligence.
Maintaining control of the car. Drivers are expected to keep their vehicles under control at all times. Negligence may be inferred if a car loses control (by overturning or leaving the roadway) for any reason.
Maintenance and proper use of vehicle equipment. Drivers are expected to maintain their vehicles in safe working order. For example, lights and brakes should be working properly.
Driver Duties Imposed by State Law
Each state’s motor vehicle laws govern how drivers are expected to behave on the road. In certain circumstances, violating a motor vehicle law gives rise to a “presumption” of negligence—meaning that the defendant must present evidence to prove that he or she was not negligent.
Examples of conduct that may give rise to a presumption of negligence include:
- driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- violating right-of-way rules, including a pedestrian’s right of way, and
- driving on the wrong side of the road.
Defenses to Negligence In a Car Accident Case
Certain legal defenses might be utilized to lower or erase the defendant’s liability in a car accident case (that is, the amount of compensation the defendant must pay the plaintiff).
For example, if a pedestrian runs into the middle of the road and is hit by a car, the driver might escape all liability. or may only have to pay for a portion of the pedestrian’s injuries. Learn more about contributory and comparative negligence in car accident cases.
Spanish Speaking Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston
Spanish-speaking drivers can have a more difficult time seeking justice in their car accident cases due to language barriers. This causes them to not take action against those who have left them with financial devastation and physical trauma. At the Law Office of Beverly R. Caruthers, our team refuses to let a language barrier affect your right to justice and compensation. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident and is in need of Spanish-speaking legal advice, our team is here for you.
We make it simple for individuals injured in car accidents to navigate the legal system in order to get the results they need to continue on in their lives. Schedule your no-obligation car accident consultation with Attorney Caruthers today. Our team will work with you every step of the way to ensure your needs are being met and that you are getting the treatment you deserve in your car accident case. Don’t hesitate, the sooner you call the more we can do to get you results.
Houston Car Accident Attorney
If you or someone you love has suffered an injury, experienced loss of income, or are unable to work due to a car accident, you can benefit from the services of a Houston car accident expert in your personal injury case. Whether you missed work due to an injury or due to not having access to a vehicle, Attorney Beverly R. Caruthers can help you!
Our team works hard to bring the most efficient and practical solutions to your car accident case. Beverly R. Caruthers proudly serves and defends the Greater Houston area including but not limited to Baytown, Conroe, Crosby, Humble, Huntsville, Lake Jackson, Missouri City, Pasadena, Spring, Tomball.