What is Negligence in a Car Accident, and Who Is Liable?

The term “car accident” is misleading, as the term “accident” generally implies that no one is to blame.  While no one necessarily sets out to cause a car crash, the fact is that almost all car crashes are the result of some type of negligence.

Negligence is a legal term. Briefly, it means that one person had a legal duty to another person, and that such duty was breached. In layman’s terms, when driving, we all have a legal duty not to cause an accident by hitting another person with our car. As part of this duty, we must drive safely, which means that we should do a number of things such as:

  • observe the speed limit, traffic control signs, and traffic control devices, such as stoplights
  • look in our rearview mirror and behind us before backing out
  • look in our mirror and blind spots before making a lane change
  • make sure that we are watching for pedestrians who may cross the street.

These are only a few of the things that all drivers must do in order to drive safely.

To prove negligence in a court case, the plaintiff (the injured person), must show that the person causing injury (such as the other driver), had a duty to drive safely and failed to do so in some respect, and that such failure directly led to injury and damages. For example, an injured plaintiff may introduce testimony from witnesses that another driver was speeding and ran a red light before crashing into the plaintiff’s car.

In this example, a jury would be entitled to find that the defendant driver was negligent by speeding and running a red light, and that if not for these actions, a crash would not have occurred. Therefore, the jury could then award damages to the injured plaintiff for whatever damages may be proven.

Multiple Defendants

In some car crashes, there will be more than one defendant liable. For instance, a driver who became drunk as the result of being overserved alcohol at a bar may be liable for causing a car crash. Under what is known as “dram shop” law, the bar may also be partly liable for the crash. In this case, a jury is entitled to allocate liability between the drunk driver and the bar based upon the evidence introduced at trial.

Both Drivers May Be at Fault

In some car crashes both drivers may be at fault. For instance, in a collision at an intersection, one driver may have ran a red light while the other driver was speeding. In this case, a jury would also be entitled to allocate fault among the two drivers, who very well may be suing each other.

How I Help Injury Victims Prove Legal Negligence

As a car crash injury lawyer, I represent the victims injured by negligent drivers.  I work diligently to prove liability and obtain for clients the full measure of damages to which they are entitled. If you’ve been injured in a car crash, please call me to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your options for seeking compensation and how I can help you.

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