California follows a traditional fault-based system when it comes to car accidents, meaning that the person responsible for the collision must pay for the damages of the victims. To prove that the other driver was at-fault, you must establish that he or she engaged in negligent driving at the time of the accident. Proving negligent driving can be difficult, but you can identify this behavior by looking for common signs.
Common Types of Negligent Driving Behaviors
Under the law, all drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and follow all applicable traffic rules and regulations. This is known as the driver duty of reasonable care.
To keep everyone on the road safe, drivers must uphold their duty of reasonable care whenever they are behind the wheel. However, some drivers can cause accidents by engaging in negligent driving behaviors.
Common examples of negligent driving include the following.
- Failure to follow the speed limit: Speed limits are in place for a reason, and it is important for drivers to follow these rules. In addition, drivers have a responsibility to drive at an appropriate speed for the weather conditions, visibility, and road conditions. If a driver operates a vehicle at a higher speed than is reasonably safe, he or she can put other drivers at risk and commit an act of negligence.
- Violation of California law: All states have laws regarding how drivers should behave on the road, from avoiding drugs and alcohol to yielding the right of way to pedestrians, cyclists, and other drivers. If a driver violates state traffic laws, he or she is engaging in negligent driving.
- Failure to keep a proper lookout: As a driver, you never know what unexpected hazards or conditions may appear at any given time. Drivers have a duty to watch for pedestrians, drivers, and other road conditions that could lead to a dangerous situation. If a driver doesn’t keep a proper lookout, he or she may lose control of the vehicle, crash into a piece of property, or collide into another driver or person.
How to Prove Negligence in California
The concept of negligence is integral to all personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims involving negligent drivers. To prove the presence of negligence in your car accident, you and your attorney will need to gather evidence to support four important elements.
- The at-fault driver owed you a duty of care at the time of the crash.
- The at-fault driver breached his or her duty of care to you.
- The breach of duty directly caused the accident and your injuries.
- You can collect damages for your losses through your claim.
As discussed earlier, the at-fault driver can breach his or her duty of reasonable care to you in a number of ways, from speeding to running a stop sign. The driver may also breach his or her duty of care to you by violating California law, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Your attorney will need to conduct an in-depth investigation to determine the exact cause of the crash and why this cause is indicative of negligent driving behaviors. He or she may also use your medical records, expert testimony, witnesses from the scene, surveillance footage, and other pieces of evidence to prove causation and your damages.
Committing an act of negligence while driving can be very dangerous, leading to thousands of dollars in financial damages, severe injuries, and emotional turmoil. If you are the victim of a negligent driver, contact a Bakersfield car accident attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for compensation.