In a car accident, when an individual wants to prove fault they often rely on the legal theory referred to as negligence. This article and the subsequent one will discuss the legal theory of negligence and how it affects your personal injury claim.
According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute [Negligence | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute (cornell.edu)] negligence is defined as “a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances. The behavior usually consists of actions, but can also consist of omissions when there is a duty to act.” Put simply negligence can refer to the careless actions or conduct of a person that lead up or result in the harm of another. To understand how negligence impacts your specific case speak to car accident lawyers in Bakersfield today.
With regards to a car accident, an individual may act negligently by doing something that they shouldn’t do. This can be something like speeding or running a red light. Another aspect of negligence can be when an individual fails to do something they are supposed to do. For example, this could be where a driver fails to yield or forgets to turn on their indicator light to show their intention of turning.
The definition by the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute mentions the phrase “ordinary prudence”, this phrase can be replaced by the term “reasonable care”. With regards to a car accident, a driver would use reasonable care in ensuring that s/he does not injure other road users including passengers, pedestrians, cyclists as well as motorists. Failure to use reasonable care rises to the level of negligence. Where a driver does not practice reasonable care and someone is harmed, then the driver may be financially responsible for any injuries and losses are suffered by the injured individual.
A driver needs to exercise reasonable care in order to avoid harming other people by, among other things:
- Driving their vehicle at a reasonable speed – it’s easy to assume a reasonable speed would be the same as the speed limit or below what is posted on the road. However, it is important to note reasonableness and prudence depend, in part, on other factors, such as weather conditions, road conditions, visibility, and the amount of traffic on the road. Therefore, a driver’s prudence and reasonableness depends on the conditions, and a safe or reasonable speed is determined by factors other than the speed limit. For example, if the weather is bad (storm), the driver would be reasonable to travel at a lower speed despite the posted speed limit. This shows prudence on the part of the driver as s/he is not endangering other road users.
- Being vigilant – it is the duty of any driver to pay attention and be alert while driving. This includes keeping on the lookout for pedestrians, road hazards, and other road users. The failure to be vigilant and keep a proper lookout can be negligence.