What is negligence and does it play a role in my car accident?
By GNGF on January 23rd, 2023 in
Negligence is a legal term and is defined as failing to do that which a person of ordinary prudence would have done under the same or similar circumstances. Negligence also means doing that which a person of ordinary prudence would not have done under the same or similar circumstances. When a driver’s negligence causes another harm, that person is responsible for the damages, harms, and losses occasioned by that harm.
When a jury is determining negligence, they will question whether a “reasonable” person would have done the same thing, given the same set of circumstances. “Reasonableness” is based on whether a person used good judgment or acted in a manner that most other adults would have done. There are four elements associated with proving negligence. These elements include:
- Was there a duty of care owed? Drivers automatically owe other drivers and others on the roadways a duty of care. They are charged with driving safely and obeying all traffic laws and rules. Any driver automatically owes a duty of care to other drivers, so the driver who hit you owed you a duty of care.
- Was the duty of care breached? Since it has been established that there was a duty of care owed, the next question is whether that duty was breached—in this case, whether the other driver failed to obey a traffic law or rule or acted in an unsafe manner.
- Did injuries result because of the breach of duty of care? If the other driver broke laws or failed to drive in a safe manner and this caused your accident, were there resulting injuries?
- Finally, if there was a duty of care, that duty was breached, and injuries resulted, did those injuries lead to damages? (financial and emotional)
What is the 50 percent rule?
The 50 percent rule concerns a car accident caused by a negligent or careless driver in a situation where you were also at least partially to blame. The state of Texas uses modified comparative negligence law to determine damages in an auto accident claim. This means that you can claim compensation from the other driver, so long as you are 50 percent or less at fault for the accident. Once you are found to be 51 percent or more liable for the accident, you will not be able to file a claim against the other driver.
Under this modified comparative negligence law, your recovery from the accident will be reduced by a percentage equal to your liability. As an example, suppose you are hit by a driver who ran a red light, colliding with you in the intersection. The police determine that you were exceeding the speed limit at the time of the collision, assigning 20 percent of the fault for the accident to you.
Assume your damages from the accident total $150,000. Your settlement would be reduced by 20 percent, meaning you would only receive $130,000 in damages. A low level of fault is crucial for obtaining the highest amount of damages for your claim.
Your attorney will work hard to demonstrate a low percentage of fault, using police reports, eyewitness statements, video evidence, and perhaps even accident reconstruction. Unlike Texas, the state of New Mexico operates under pure comparative negligence, meaning you are allowed to sue for damages even when you are deemed to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. In this case, if you have $150,000 in damages and the other driver is 100 percent at fault, you would be entitled to the full amount. Even if you were found to be 80 percent liable for the accident, you would still be entitled to $30,000 for your damages.
How Can the Harmonson Law Firm with Offices in El Paso, TX and Las Cruces, NM Help?
Determining liability following a car accident is crucial to the outcome of your accident claim. Because of this, your attorney from Harmonson Law Firm will work hard to establish liability so you can receive a full settlement for your injuries and damages. If you were partially at fault, we will work to keep that percentage of fault as low as possible. The attorneys at Harmonson Law Firm will obtain the accident report, review it to uncover any potential issues, and undertake an investigation to establish the other driver’s fault.
This can include talking to witnesses, reviewing or taking photos of the accident scene, inspecting the vehicle, and more. Attorneys Clark Harmonson and Hadley Huchton understand that when you are choosing a personal injury attorney following your car accident, you do have choices. We believe once you talk to us, you’ll see our dedication to helping good people hurt in bad accidents. At Harmonson Law Firm we will fight for you and your family, never accepting a low offer for your injuries. Contact Harmonson Law Firm today. Please note that nothing herein is meant as legal advice specifically related to your case.