What is Negligence in a Car Accident Case?
Some very specific elements must be present for negligence to be found in a car accident situation. Consult a Pueblo West, CO car accident attorney to discuss whether negligence may have occurred in your case.
Let’s use an example auto accident situation to explain how negligence is determined: It was daylight and an auto driver did not stop at a stop sign, and hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk. The pedestrian ended up with a broken collarbone.
First, for negligence to be found, there must be a relationship between the injured party (Plaintiff) and the person causing the injury (Defendant) and a duty owed by the Defendant to the Plaintiff. In our example, a legal relationship existed between the driver and the pedestrian, and the driver owed a duty not to hit the pedestrian in the crosswalk. An experienced Pueblo West, CO car accident attorney can advise you as to whether a qualifying relationship and duty is owed in your case.
Negligence occurs when the duty owed by the Defendant to the Plaintiff is breached by the Defendant’s actions or inactions. A duty is breached when the Defendant fails to act in a way that is reasonable to most people. In the crosswalk example, the Defendant breached her duty to the pedestrian when she failed to stop at the stop sign and hit the pedestrian.
Finally, the actions or inactions by the Defendant must have caused or contributed to an actual injury (i.e., physical, financial, emotion) that must have been reasonably foreseeable to the Defendant. So in our example, the driver’s failure to stop at the stop sign caused her to strike the person in the crosswalk, and inflict actual injuries (the broken collarbone). It was reasonably foreseeable that hitting a person with a car could cause a broken collarbone. Thus, the driver would be negligent.
However, if a Plaintiff’s actions contributed to the accident happening (called “contributory negligence”), the Defendant might not be liable, or her liability may be reduced. If in our example, it was dark and raining when the accident occurred and the pedestrian ran out into the street. It may be found that the pedestrian contributed to the accident occurring, and the Defendant might not be liable at all.