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What is Negligent Behavior in Car Accidents?

Vehicle accidents occur in a wide variety of ways, often due to the actions of one or more drivers on the roadway. In some cases, one driver’s negligence is directly responsible for a vehicle accident. However, what exactly is negligent behavior behind the wheel? Here, we want to examine what “negligence” actually means concerning a vehicle accident, particularly when it comes to a crash victim recovering compensation for their losses.

Defining Negligent Behavior

There are various ways to define negligent behavior after a vehicle accident, but we should first establish that negligence consists of four elements that must be present for a car accident or personal injury claim to be successful.

  • Duty. Before a personal injury claim can even proceed, it must be established that the defendant in the case (the alleged negligent party) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (the car accident victim). Any person who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle owes a duty of care to every other driver, pedestrian, and bicyclist around them. This duty of care revolves around operating the vehicle safely at all times.
  • Breach. After establishing a duty of care in a vehicle accident claim, it must be shown that the defendant breached their duty of care in some way. In a moment, we will outline the many ways that individuals can negligently breach their duty of care while behind the wheel.
  • Causation. After establishing that a breach of duty occurred on North Carolina roadways, it must be shown that this breach directly caused the accident that led to a plaintiff’s injuries.
  • Damages. Finally, it must be shown that the plaintiff sustained some sort of injuries as a result of the vehicle accident.

Negligence and the Breach of Duty of Care

There are various ways that drivers in North Carolina can breach their duty of care to others around them. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Operating a vehicle while distracted by a cell phone or something else inside the vehicle
  • Failing to stop at stoplights or stop signs
  • Failing to yield the right of way to others
  • Operating too fast for conditions (this definition is more expansive than just going over the speed limit)
  • Recklessly racing a vehicle on the roadway
  • Road rage incidents
  • Following other vehicles too closely (tailgating)
  • Operating a vehicle with faulty equipment (faulty brake lights, headlights, turn signals, etc.)

Establishing that a driver was operating negligently can be challenging, but this process begins at the scene of the crash. The police will come investigate the incident, but those at the scene can also take steps to gather evidence. This can include using a cell phone to take photographs and videos of everything at the scene, including damages, injuries, possible causes of the crash, skid marks, debris, traffic and weather conditions, and more.

Ultimately, if a car accident victim can prove that the other driver was negligent, then they will be entitled to various types of compensation. This includes coverage of their medical expenses, lost income if they cannot work, property damage expenses, and possibly even pain and suffering damages.

Call us today to speak with a Raleigh car accident lawyer.