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What Constitutes Negligence in a Car Accident?

Rear view of a young couple texting and driving negligently while ignoring the road

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and you have chosen to pursue a personal injury claim, you have likely encountered the term “negligence.”

What is the Definition of Negligence?

Most car accident lawsuits are based on the legal principle of negligence, which is defined as a breach in the “duty of care” owed by one person to another. Put another way, if a driver fails to use “reasonable care under the circumstances” while operating a vehicle, he is said to be “negligent.”

An individual can be described as negligent if he does something that he should not have done (eg. drives while intoxicated and causes an accident), or if he fails to do something he should have done (eg. fails to stop at a stop sign and then causes a collision).

The concept of negligence originates in a consideration of socially acceptable behavior. The respect of fellow citizens for the well-being of each in society requires that they treat each other in a manner so as not to cause injury. Cars are deadly weapons once in motion, and therefore the legislatures and courts have created a set of rules to ensure that both drivers and pedestrians can interact with one another in a safe manner; and to provide consequences when they don’t. While a criminal court may provide a remedy if the conduct rises to criminal level, it is the civil courts that adjudicate cases where money damages are sought for negligent behavior.

What is Considered Negligence in a Car Accident Case?

Negligent behavior while driving comes in a variety of forms. Negligence in a car accident situation can be classified as any behavior that results in distraction or failure on a conscious level to operate the vehicle according to the “rules of the road.”

Examples of negligence while driving include:

  • Texting while driving
  • Taking eyes off of the road to talk while driving
  • Sending an email while driving
  • Taking a picture or “selfie” while driving
  • Reaching for something in the passenger seat or back seat while driving
  • Taking attention off of the road to address what’s going on in the back seat while driving
  • Drinking while or before driving
  • Failing to yield
  • Failing to stop at a stop sign or traffic light
  • Failing to maintain the vehicle’s brakes, steering, etc. as the result of which control is lost or impacted
  • Driving at an unreasonable speed for conditions
  • Operating a vehicle that is not properly maintained

Drivers must be alert and aware of other vehicles and able to maintain control of their vehicle at all times. If an action, activity or failure to act when necessary interferes with a driver’s ability to operate his vehicle safely and an individual is injured as a result, that driver will likely be found to be negligent and liable for injury and damages he caused.

Injured Due to Another Driver’s Negligence? Contact Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany Today!

If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident in Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Clifton Park, Saratoga or anywhere in the Capital Region, you should retain an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.

The award-winning personal injury attorneys at Anderson, Moschetti and Taffany each have more than 30 years of experience handling car accident cases and possess a thorough comprehension of the legal principles of negligence and other concepts important to personal injury law. They have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled following an automobile accident.

Anderson, Moschetti and Taffany have obtained record setting verdicts and settlements for past clients, establishing themselves as successful upstate New York car accident lawyers. To ensure that you receive full compensation for your injuries following a car accident, call the lawyers at Anderson, Moschetti and Taffany.

Ready to take the first step towards recovery? Contact us today at (518) 785-4900 for a free consultation or fill out the form on our website to schedule your free case review.

Looking to learn more about negligence, liability and the steps to take after you’ve been seriously injured in an accident? The following resources are a great place to start:

What is Liability in a Personal Injury Case? Understanding Fault & Negligence Following an Accident – Find out how liability and the duty of reasonable care impact each other, and learn how liability may impact your personal injury case.

What is Negligence Per Se? How Does it Affect My Ability to Bring a Lawsuit? – Learn how negligence per se differs from negligence, and explore how the these concepts could influence the outcome of your case.

Editor’s Note: This content was originally published in 2015 but has been updated as of November 2018.

Jeff Anderson

About Jeff Anderson

As the managing partner at the law firm, Mr. Anderson has over three decades of experience handling personal injury and wrongful death cases and has achieved numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of his clients. Read More About Jeffrey Kyle Anderson »