Negligence plays a crucial role in many car accidents that occur in Tampa. In fact, drivers could avoid most accidents if it weren’t for some act of negligence that immediately preceded the crash event. Negligence is a critical factor in building a Tampa car accident case.
Before they can recover your compensation, your injury lawyer must show the other driver acted negligently to prove they caused the crash. Next, we’ll break down what constitutes negligence in a court of law and the essential elements of a negligence case.
What Is Negligence?
You’ve likely heard it before, especially where it concerns legal matters, but what exactly is negligence, and why does it matter? Negligence is the failure to take proper care in performing one’s duties. This failure is measured against a particular standard a person is expected to meet in a similar situation. It requires that a person fails to exercise the same level of care that a reasonable person or a “person of ordinary prudence” would have under the same circumstances.
In other words, when looking at whether negligence took place, a judge or jury will ask, “Would a reasonable person behave in the same way if they were in the same situation?” If a factfinder determines the actions of the opposing party were reasonable and expected of a person in the situation, then negligence did not occur. However, if they determine a reasonable person would have acted differently under the same circumstances, the opposing party can be found negligent.
How Do You Know If Negligence Occurred?
When determining whether a person’s actions lacked reasonable care, the factors under review include:
- Whether the driver’s actions could lead to foreseeable harm
- The foreseeable severity of the harm that could result
- Whether there was anything the driver could do and to what extent to eliminate or reduce the risk of harm.
Negligence can occur by act or omission. This means it may be the person’s specific actions or their failure to take certain actions that constitutes negligence.
The Four Elements Of A Negligence Case
Four elements establish a negligence case. The elements are not codified in written statutes but rather exist under common law. They are:
- Duty: The defendant in your car accident case must have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care and prevent harm to you. When it comes to your Tampa car accident case, duty is simple to establish, as all drivers have a legal responsibility to drive carefully and mitigate the risk of a crash when operating a motor vehicle. Florida Statutes § 316.002 establishes uniform traffic laws that “apply throughout the state and its several counties” and stipulates “uniform traffic ordinances to apply in all municipalities.”
- Breach: The defendant must breach his duty to provide or perform with reasonable care. This is an act of negligence. Here, you and your Tampa car accident lawyer must establish the other driver either took specific actions that were risky, dangerous, or harmful or failed to take action to prevent harm to you.
- Causation: The driver’s actions must be the proximate cause of the harm you suffered, meaning you would not have suffered injuries without their actions (or lack thereof).
- Damages: You must have suffered physical, emotional, or financial harm from the other driver’s negligent actions. Often in car accidents, victims suffer bodily injury, which would satisfy the damages requirement.
If you can prove all four elements, you can proceed with a car accident case against the at-fault or liable party.
Example Of How Negligence Plays Out In Real Life
As a simple example of a negligence case, suppose a driver took his eyes off the road and plowed into the back end of your car. Witnesses say they saw him looking down as if searching for something. As a result of the collision, you suffered severe lumbar fractures, requiring medical treatment and continued chiropractic care, costing more than $12,000. You have a viable negligence case.
The driver had a duty to drive safely and keep his eyes on the road. He breached that duty by diverting his attention to the inside of his car to search for something. A reasonable person would not look down to find something while operating a moving vehicle. Therefore, the driver acted negligently. If the driver had not looked down, he probably would have stopped his car before hitting yours. His failure to do so caused him to rear-end you, injuring your back. The back injury resulted in more than $12,000 in expenses.
You can now file a claim against his insurance and request compensation for your losses.
Negligence Per Se
Another type of negligence, known as “negligence per se,” occurs when a driver breaks the law and injures someone else. The state presumes that if someone is operating a motor vehicle, which requires a license, they are aware of the traffic laws and the dangerous consequences of breaking them. Violating the statutes automatically equals negligence because the laws are in place to prevent the foreseeable harm that the driver caused.
In these cases, since negligence is presumed, you would only need to prove that violating the law led to the crash and resulted in your injuries and damages.
Proving Negligence Can Be Challenging Without A Tampa Car Accident Lawyer’s Help
Of course, many car accident cases are not cut and dry. Many factors can make it hard to prove the other driver was negligent or that they alone caused the crash. At the same time, someone else who was not the driver could be responsible for the crash, requiring you to look further into the matter. You can get help from a Tampa car accident lawyer from The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine.
They can investigate and pursue your damages while you focus on recovering from the accident. You can explore your legal options and next steps during a free consultation with our team member. Call now so that we can start working for you.
We Can Help.