Motor Vehicle Negligence

Generally, an action for negligence requires a showing that the defendant vehicle operator breached a legal duty owed to the injured plaintiff, and that the breach of such duty was a proximate or legal cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.

For example, in California, a motorist, driving on either the public or private roads, must exercise the degree of care and caution that an ordinarily careful and prudent person, acting in the same or similar circumstances, would exercise for the safety of others traveling on the road. [See, e.g., Sills v. Forbes, (1939) 33 Cal.App.2d 219, 227.]

It is well established in most states that a motorist, must, at all times, use ordinary care to avoid colliding with another, and must be alert and watchful so as not to place himself/herself in danger, and, while such motorist may assume that others will use ordinary care, he/she cannot for that reason omit any of the care that the law demands of him/her.

Pedestrians are also required to use ordinary care. However, drivers of vehicles must be use ordinary care to prevent injuries to pedestrians.

Whether or not a driver’s view was obstructed, whether the motorist was in violation of the Vehicle Code or other statute, the knowledge of the motorist as to the conditions, and the weather conditions are all factors to be considered in the investigation of an accident.

For example, in many states, an injured motorist can legally establish his/her claim through utilization of the legal theory of negligence per se. Generally, in order to establish negligence per se, the injured party must show that a defendant motorist violated a statute, ordinance or regulation. The violation of that statute must have proximately caused the injury, and the injury must have resulted from an occurrence of the nature, which the statute was designed to prevent. Lastly, in most jurisdictions, the injured party must establish that he/she was one of the class of persons for whose protection this statute was adopted. [See, e.g., California Evidence Code, Section 669].

An example of negligence per se follows: A motorist suddenly stops her automobile without first giving an appropriate signal to the driver of the vehicle which was immediately behind her. The vehicle behind collided with her automobile, there being no showing that she did not have a reasonable opportunity to give the required signal before stopping. Under virtually these circumstances, a court in California found that the motorist’s failure to give signal of her intention to stop constituted negligence per se. [See, e.g., Lutz v. Schendel, (1959) 175 Cal.App.2d 140; California Vehicle Code Sections 22109, 22110].

If you or someone you know has been injured as the result of an auto accident or car crash, you need the assistance of the Scarlett Law Group. Call (415) 688-2176 today to speak with a California Personal Injury Attorney.

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