Car Accident Negligence: Failure to Act as a Reasonably Prudent Driver.
Of all the negligence arguments a lawyer can make in a car accident case, failure to act as a reasonably prudent driver might be the broadest. As such, it captures well the somewhat open character of negligence. Below, we’ll outline what it means, how juries generally interpret it, and what your lawyer should argue.
If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out our Comprehensive Guide to Car Accidents page to learn all you need to know about car accident law.
What it means.
There is no magic checklist of what drivers are supposed to do when they’re on the road. Why? Because it’s literally impossible to foresee every single circumstance, address exactly what a driver should do, and then somehow expect drivers to remember a set of rules that would be longer than the Bible. Just one rule might look like this:
- “If a motorist is on a highway with a 75 mph speed limit, and there are at least three cars within 30 feet of him, and it’s raining, and another car’s driver appears to be intoxicated, he should slow his car to at least 55 mph. If not raining, 65 mph.”
One, that’s wholly arbitrary and baseless. Two, how could anyone in the split-second decision process of driving that fast remember some arcane rule like that?
So, instead, we allow the jury to “sit” in the driver’s seat and decide what’s prudent under the circumstances. So, for any given type of misconduct that occurs behind the wheel, and which results in injury, the jury is asked to answer whether or not the accused defendant behaved as a reasonably prudent driver. If the jury concludes that he did not behave as a reasonably prudent driver, then the defendant is fond to be negligent. Juries are allowed to hear all the testimony and come to a determination that, under the circumstances, the other driver was or wasn’t negligent.Myth - Insurance Carriers Must Pay Accident Victims This is not how insurance works at all. In this article, we address the myth and explain how insurance policies actually do work...Read More >
How your car accident attorney fits in all this.
Since this is such a broad concept, you might be wondering what a lawyer’s job really is here. Well, first of all, he needs to go get the actual information about what happened. He does this by subpoenaing records, finding the right witnesses and putting them under oath and questioning them, and by hiring his own investigators to suss out what they can find.
Second, this part of the law is a lot about story telling. Not the “stories” you told your parents about brushing your teeth or not hitting your brother, but about framing up your accident in some kind of narrative. No juror wants to hear a lecture about arcane bits of legalese, but instead needs to feel moved about what happened to you, and feel anger at the defendant for doing it to you. This requires an ability to connect with jurors on an individual level, human-to-human.
You should never trust your case to an attorney who doesn’t know the law, but especially don’t trust a car accident case to an attorney who can’t tell your story. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, call the attorneys at Grossman Law Offices at (855) 326-0000.
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