In order to operate a motor vehicle, you must have a driver’s license. To acquire a driver’s license, a person must pass a driving test which will deem them suitable to operate a vehicle. Having a driver’s license allows you to legally drive a vehicle, but the responsibility of this privilege goes beyond a simple license. Drivers have a duty to operate their motor vehicles in a safe manner. They must follow traffics laws set forth by their counties and states, as well as responsibly navigating the roadways with other fellow drivers. If they breach that duty, they will be liable for property damage, economic damages, and bodily injury actually caused or “proximately caused” by their negligence. This means that not only could you be liable for the damage caused in the accident, but any injuries subsequent to the accident while awaiting treatment or assistance.So, What Does it Mean to act Negligently When Driving a Car?
In order to not be driving in a negligent manner, one must act in a manner that shows an awareness of the people around them. It is important to drive in a manner that does not put others around you in danger. This does not necessarily mean you need to be astutely aware of what every other car on the road is doing, to ensure you avoid hitting them, but instead, this is usually measured by determining if the way you are driving your car would conform with the behavior of another reasonable and prudent person in similar circumstances. If you are distracted while driving, your awareness is lowered, your attention is elsewhere and could result in an accident that would have been easily avoided. There are circumstances that could result in an accident even when you are fully attentive. This could be due to the fact of reckless driving.
Reckless driving is considered driving that is irresponsible in nature and would limit a person’s ability to react in a given situation. For example, if you are driving on the highway and there is a speed limit, it would be reasonable to think most people would follow the speed limit, and that exceeding this speed limit is negligent behavior. The accident could be a result of a person excessively speeding and not able to stop in time to avoid the accident, whereas they could have stopped in time if they were following the speed limit. The party (or parties) who acted negligently are then responsible for the damages suffered by the innocent driver.
However, there is an exception to this usual standard of care, and that is the emergency doctrine. This doctrine lowers the standard of care one must take in an emergency situation, where there are unexpected circumstances that present themselves in a sudden way. The reason for this exception is that when a situation occurs quickly and without warning, it is likely that the driver will not have ample time to think and react as they normally would and therefore, they are held to a lower duty of care. For example, if a child were to suddenly run into the road in front of you, it may be reasonable for you to swerve to avoid the child without looking around to make sure you would not hit anything. Whereas, if there was no child in front of you, you would be expected to look around your car using your mirrors before changing lanes.
In the end, you have a duty to drive your car safely. The safety rules that you must follow are largely set forth in Chapter 316 of Florida Statute. Those statutes are used by police officers regularly to issue citations. The citations are not admissible in court. However, the safety rules in Chapter 316 are relevant to any trial. In fact, if we can show that the Defendant broke one of the rules in Chapter 316, that is evidence of negligence. It is not an open and shut situation. However, violation of a traffic statute is relevant evidence of negligence. If we can show by the greater weight of the evidence that the statute was broken, then we should be able to establish liability.
When you drive a car in Florida, you are expected to exercise reasonable care when operating your vehicle. A driver should operate their vehicle in a way that ensures the safety of those around them, including other cars, bicycles, and pedestrians. This duty of care includes obeying speed limits, traffic signs, and following the rules of the road. When drivers fail to exercise due care when operating their vehicles, it may cause harm to others on the road. A driver who is traveling at an excessive speed, is impaired or distracted, doesn't obey traffic signs, or fails to operate their car safely in poor weather conditions may be found negligent.
Negligence is proven by analyzing the actions of the driver and the results of the accident. Was the at-fault driver able to exercise their duty of care in the accident but didn't? For example, a driver who chooses to travel at high speed in a school zone would not maintain their duty of care to those around them. A driver may also be found negligent if they forgot to turn their headlights on at night or didn't signal when making a turn. Negligence also involves looking at the harm resulting from the car accident. Was someone hurt in the accident? If so, were the injuries caused by the actions, or lack of action, of the at-fault driver? These factors are evaluated when determining the negligence of the drivers involved in the accident.
No two car accidents are the same. In some cases, both drivers may share the blame for a car accident. For example, one driver may have driving well over the speed limit at night, yet the other driver failed to have their headlights on. Both factors may have contributed to the accident. The State of Florida follows the pure comparative negligence doctrine, which means that blame may be assessed to multiple parties in the accident. If you share the blame, any damages that you may be entitled to are reduced by that percentage. Unless you are found to be 100% responsible, you can still recover damages if your injuries were severe.
If a driver fails to act safely and causes serious injury, it is helpful to find a personal injury lawyer to represent your rights. You need an attorney that understands and regularly practices personal injury law, not just dabbles in it from time to time. You need the best representation to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the damages you need. To find the best personal injury lawyer in Miami, take advantage of firms that offer a free consultation. Ask them questions about their experience and success rate. Find out how they would approach your case and what you can expect from them along the way. Will they be available for questions and phone calls? Will they update you on the status of your case? Personal injury lawsuits are nerve-racking and stressful. You need to find an attorney that you are comfortable working with and will guide you along the way.
If you have any questions, please call the Miami car accident lawyers at the Wolfson Law Firm for a free consultation. You can reach us at 305-285-1115 anytime.