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How Do I Prove Failure to Keep a Proper Lookout?

"Failure to keep a lookout?" What it means and how our car accident attorneys prove it

From the time we were first taught to drive, we've always known that we should keep our eyes on the road. Given the number of distractions in a modern vehicle from GPS systems, monitors which can play DVDs, and cell phones, this is unfortunately, easier said than done for many drivers. However many gadgets and devices we have in our vehicles, it does not excuse us from our duty to keep a proper lookout. When a driver fails in that duty and causes and accident, they can be liable for the damages to others than ensue.

The attorneys at Dallas-based Grossman Law Offices will explain what "failure to keep a proper lookout" means and how we prove it.

Questions answered on this page:

  • What does "failure to keep a proper lookout mean?"
  • How do you prove that someone failed to keep a proper lookout?
  • How does failure to keep a proper lookout help determine fault in an accident?
  • Why do you need an experienced car accident attorney to help you prove the other driver failed to keep a proper lookout?

What failure to keep a lookout means.

When someone is driving on a roadway, they owe a duty to our fellow drivers to expect the unexpected. That is why all of us are taught to always keep our eyes on the road. The reason for this is that it is common sense that conditions on a roadway are subject to change without warning. Vehicles break down. Objects appear that shouldn't be in the road. Around residential neighborhoods and schools, one can expect children to be playing and walking near the street. Even the fact that lights change, leading to cars moving or stopping are all reasons why the law expects us to remain vigilant when we are behind the wheel. That and guiding a 2 ton piece of metal down the highway has inherent dangers.

Of course, the reasonable person standard undergirds this entire principle. This means that you are only responsible for keeping a lookout for something that is foreseeable by a reasonable person. For instance, if a tree falls in the roadway and the car in front of you hits it, coming to an immediate stop, and then you rear-end the stopped vehicle, most likely you would not be guilty of failing to keep a proper lookout, because there was no way a reasonable person could have anticipated that a tree would fall into the roadway, which stopped the car in front faster than it would have otherwise stopped.

All of these expectations combine to form a duty to keep a proper lookout. Failure to keep a proper lookout is then merely when a driver does not live up to the duty that we expect of them. Failing this duty means that the driver becomes civilly liable for any damages that result from their negligence.

We have had a couple of examples of failing to keep a proper lookout in some of our recent cases.

  • One of our clients was traveling northbound on I-35 near Austin in the center lane. A driver in the right lane was playing "Angry Birds" on her cell phone rather than paying attention. She decided to change lanes when she came upon a slower driver. Because she didn't notice our client in the lane next to her, she changed into the center lane and hit our client, who then was forced into the median and crashed. Our client received major injuries as a result.
  • A family we represented in Houston was sitting at a traffic stop. A car came around a corner from behind driven by a man trying to get his car stereo to eject a CD. Because he wasn't paying attention to the road, he plowed into the back of our clients, killing several of them and injuring the rest.

Getting the evidence your case needs.

As you know, winning a legal case of any kind requires securing courtroom-admissible evidence that persuades a jury that you're right and the defendant is wrong. Obtaining evidence that the driver who hit you failed to keep an adequate lookout takes two forms:

  1. Direct Evidence: We've had a handful of cases over the years where the driver came right out and admitted that he wasn't paying attention to the road. This is the exception. We've also had cases where we had witnesses who were in the other driver's car at the time who've told us that the driver was texting, playing with the radio, or even gawking at an attractive pedestrian. Lastly, we've had clients who themselves witnessed distracted driving from the defendant.
  2. Circumstantial Evidence: Most often, we have to infer that the driver failed to pay adequate attention to the road. Basically, we can argue to the jury that NO ONE who was paying attention to the road would have ever hit you. In other words, we argue to a jury that they can assume that even though the driver claims otherwise, he simply has to be mistaken or outright lying.

With years of experience, a skilled car accident attorney, like those at Grossman Law Offices, is best equipped to evaluate the facts of your case, gather evidence, and prevail with this claim, either with an insurance company or in a courtroom.

How this impacts your claim.

If we can obtain evidence that a driver failed to adequately keep a lookout for other vehicles, then we stand a very good chance of not even having to go before a jury. This is because the insurance company's lawyers will see the "writing on the wall" and offer a settlement. Juries get very angry at drivers who hurt or kill other drivers for making stupid mistakes like this. Once we've got the evidence we need, we reach out informally to the insurance company lawyers and open settlement discussions. Eventually, we send over a formal demand with all our evidence and a dollar amount we'd settle your case for.

If that is not enough, we simply go to the jury. Our firm is ready, willing, and able to take your case the distance it needs to go to get you what you deserve. If you've been hurt or lost a loved one and suspect that the other driver was simply not keeping an adequate lookout or has committed one of the following other types of car accident negligence:

If you have any questions or would like us to get started on your case, call us now at (855) 326-0000 for help. We answer the phones 24/7.

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