Car accident negligence arguments: failure to control speed.
Everyone knows that drivers are supposed to stay within posted speed limits. Most people don’t, of course, and police seem to not mind too much if you keep it within the 5-10 mph range of the limit. But when car accidents happen, one of the first questions a police officer will ask is, “How fast were you going?” The reason for that is more complex than it may seem at first blush.
How speed causes accidents to happen.
Speed limits aren’t wholly arbitrary. The Texas state government examines the roadway conditions, how curvy the road is, whether there are frequent stops, and where pedestrians might be near the road. They then make a calculated estimation of what speed people can travel within some reasonable degree of safety. They understand, as does everyone, that at a certain point there’s no way a car can be safe at a certain speed. Why? Just some of the reasons:
- Cars can’t stop fast enough
- Cars can’t maneuver around stopped vehicles in time
- Drivers won’t see pedestrians before hitting them
- Cars can’t change lanes in time to avoid turning cars
But we cannot stress this enough: each case is fact-specific. This negligence argument is premised on whether the driver was not driving fast, but whether it was too fast for the conditions of the road at the moment. Here are some examples of what we mean:
- A driver is traveling at 10 miles over the speed limit. Your car was in the middle of the road near a corner after a single-car accident. As the driver makes the turn, he doesn’t have time to stop and plows into you. The main question here will be: even if the driver had been going the posted speed limit, would it have made any difference? If yes, then the driver “failed to control his speed.” If not, then the fact that he was speeding means nothing to your case.
- During a severe rainstorm, a driver is traveling at 10 miles BELOW the speed limit. As he turns a corner, you’re stopped because of roadway construction. Once he sees your car stopped, he slams on his brakes but is unable to stop. He might argue that, clearly, since he was driving under the speed limit, he was behaving reasonably and prudently. But you likely have a claim because, due to the weather, he should have been driving much slower.
How we can prove the other driver failed to control his speed.
There are a variety of ways to prove that the defendant driver was driving too quickly for the conditions: eyewitness testimony, ECM data (called the “black box” for cars), your own testimony, deriving the speed from circumstantial evidence, and length of skid marks. Often enough, all of this data and testimony will need the help of what’s called an “expert witness,” someone with a background in accident reconstruction to explain to the jury exactly what happened.
Occasionally, drivers will admit to driving too fast, but that’s a once-in-a-decade rarity. It’s up to your attorney to piece the story together in such a way that a jury will believe that you were not in the wrong. Juries don’t simply assume that the other driver was behaving negligently and will punish you for not proving up your case.
One quick word about your role in this. You’re not an expert in these things, and you won’t be expected to relay anything to the jury about whether you thought the defendant was going “too fast” in most instances. That’s your lawyer’s job.
Translating speeding into negligence.
As the intro to this article suggests, failure to control speed can be a type of negligence. While that may seem to be a trivial point, arguing in court that someone was speeding is not worth anything. Instead, all arguments must be translated into a legally sound argument. Thusly, a lawyer must equate the colloquial concept of speeding into the legal concept of negligence.
To do so, a lawyer will argue that the other driver’s speed was the proximate cause of your injuries, and that speeding is a breach of the duty to behave as a reasonably prudent driver, as required under our state’s social contract. In other words, “Sprint took my money and cancelled my phone,” isn’t a court argument. But, “My client paid Sprint several month’s worth of premium payments constituting good faith consideration, yet Sprint failed to fulfill their obligations under the contract, and are therefore in breach of contract,” is a valid argument in court. See the difference?
Hiring the right lawyer means the difference between success and failure.
We’ve handled countless car wreck cases. We’ve been able to prove that our clients were the true victim, even where the defendant’s expensive trial lawyers argued otherwise. We’re here to do the same for you.
If you have been injured due to the negligent driver, then contact Grossman Law Offices to discuss your matter further with one of our experienced car accident attorneys at (855) 326-0000.
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