Duties of All Drivers

The legal theory of negligence is used when individuals are involved in an automobile accident. To prove that the other driver was negligent or responsible for the damages, the plaintiff must show all elements of negligence.

Negligence: Elements

Duty is the first element in a negligence case. The plaintiff and defendant may have a special relationship, such as parent and child, employer and employee, or doctor and patient. Individuals also owe one another the duty to protect them from foreseeable harm. This is especially true in motor vehicle accident cases.

Other elements of a negligence case include breach of duty, causation, and damages. After establishing the duty, the factfinder will assess whether the defendant has breached it. If the fact finder determines that the defendant breached the duty, then he or she will assess whether the plaintiff was injured by the breach. The damages are both the economic and noneconomic injuries the plaintiff has suffered as a result. These damages can include property damage, medical expenses and lost time from work.

General Duty

Drivers have a responsibility to maintain a safe driving environment for pedestrians, motorists, and passengers. Drivers who fail to meet one of these duties can be held responsible for negligence, provided the plaintiff can show the other elements.

Driving at a Reasonable Speed is a Duty

Drivers have a legal obligation to drive at an acceptable speed and safety. The posted speed limits are the speed limit, contrary to popular belief. If the speed limit is unsafe, drivers can still be in violation of this duty. Weather conditions, traffic conditions, and visibility are all factors that can help determine a safe speed.

Maintenance of equipment

Every driver is responsible for keeping the vehicle safe on the road. It is important to make sure that the brakes and lights work properly.

Keep an eye out for dangers

Every driver needs to be aware and alert of their surroundings. They must be aware of potential hazards that may face them, such as pedestrians and other vehicles. The fact finder will compare the defendant’s actions and/or lack thereof with those of a reasonable prudent person in negligence cases. The fact finder may consider whether the accident happened in a school or construction zone. This assessment can be compared to the defendant’s actions.

Obligation to Keep Control of the Vehicle

Drivers have the responsibility to keep control of their vehicles by paying attention, being alert and being able stop quickly.

Duties under State Law

Each state has its own set of driving rules that all drivers must follow. Drivers who fail to comply with traffic laws can be held responsible for being negligent. Common duties imposed by the state include driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, adhering to right-of-way laws, and following the right-side and portion of traffic rules.

A victim might want to speak with a personal attorney about the possibility of filing a personal injuries lawsuit if a driver breaches any of the above duties and causes someone to suffer damage.

Updated 01/19/22