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What Kind of Driver Behavior is Considered Negligent?

A black car and white car damaged in a crash

When pursuing a personal injury claim after an auto accident, it is generally based on the claim that the person who caused the accident acted negligently. Negligence is the failure to behave with a level of care that any reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. Drivers are required by law to exercise care in the operation of their vehicle and owe a duty of care to passengers, other motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike. When a driver’s behavior behind the wheel breaches this duty of care, they may be considered negligent if they caused a wreck.

What actions or behaviors are considered negligent when operating a motor vehicle? Here are a few examples:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Improper lane changes
  • Insufficient following distance (tailgating)
  • Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs
  • Traveling too fast for road conditions (rain, snow, ice, or fog)
  • Running a stop sign or traffic light
  • Unsafe passing or passing in a no passing zone
  • Failure to use turn signal

This list is by no means exhaustive of driving behaviors and actions that could be considered negligent.

An injured person in an auto accident is entitled to recover compensation for damages from the at-fault party, but they must prove that the defendant’s negligent actions actually caused their injuries. If the injury was present before the wreck or was caused in a separate incident after the wreck, you aren’t able to seek compensation for injuries.

Most Common Causes of Auto Accidents

Many of the behaviors listed above that could be considered negligent are also the top causes of auto accidents in the United States.

  • Speeding is one of the most frequently cited causes of car accidents. In 2016, speeding-related crashes resulted in 10,111 fatalities, an increase of four percent from 2015.
  • Drunk driving, or alcohol-impaired driving, continues to be a serious issue to the public on American roadways. Although the number of drunk driving-related fatalities has decreased by 23 percent since 2007, more than 10,000 people lost their lives in these types of crashes in 2016.
  • Distracted driving has received an increase in scrutiny in recent years due to the advent and popularity of smart phones. Driver distraction was reported in 15 percent of injury crashes and 10 percent of fatal crashes in 2015. Beyond mobile phone use, other driver distractions include eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, or talking with passengers.
    • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,450 people were killed in distraction-affected wrecks. Some advocacy groups, such as Stopdistractions.org, contest that distraction-affected auto accidents fatalities are in fact three-times larger. The increase of motorcyclist, pedestrian, and bicyclist fatalities in 2016 may lend credence to this idea.
  • Reckless driving, in legal terms, varies from state to state, but it generally refers to a disregard for traffic regulations. Running through stop signs and performing unsafe lane changes are two very common causes of motor vehicle accidents.

Accidents involving commercial vehicles, such as 18-wheelers and garbage trucks, share many of the same causes. However, other causes such as improperly secured loads are more apt to occur with commercial vehicles. Find out more in our blog post: What are the common causes of commercial vehicle accidents?

What do these common causes of auto accidents have in common? They are all preventable and caused by human choices. Reasonably careful people operating automobiles do not speed, drive drunk, drive distracted, or drive recklessly. Negligent drivers that cause injuries to other motorists should be held accountable and liable for injured victims and the damages they suffered.

What if You are Partially to Blame for an Accident?

In many accident cases, fault is not cut and dry. A defendant can be found negligent in an accident (due to speeding, for example) but the plaintiff (who was jaywalking across a street) may be assigned some of the fault due to their actions as well. In many states, including Texas, the comparative fault model is followed, which means that a defendant’s liability can be reduced according to how at-fault the plaintiff was in the accident that caused their injury.

Learn more about contributory and comparative fault rules in our blog post: What if I am partially to blame for my injuries caused by another person?

In addition, it may not be immediately apparent that an act of negligence took place in the aftermath of a car wreck. Auto accidents are traumatic events that unfold in a blink of an eye and are accompanied by confusion, frustration, and pain. This highlights the importance of retaining an attorney after being injured in an accident. An experienced auto accident attorney will investigate your accident, find how the at-fault party was negligent, and explore all possible means of recovery.

Contact an Experienced Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident, call Thomas J. Henry. Our accident lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to take your call and evaluate your claim. We can provide you with a free legal consultation and help you pursue a personal injury claim. You deserve compensation for your injuries, lost wages, and medical expenses. Contact us today for your free case review.

Contact Us for a Free Case Review


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