In order to avoid liability due to negligence, motorists must operate their vehicles reasonably as would any other prudent driver operating a vehicle under the same or similar circumstances. Should the driver breach this duty, and if such a breach is the proximate cause of another’s injury, then the negligent driver may be accountable to pay the victim damages.
Section 375 of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law states that vehicles must have two headlights that properly function and two taillights that function properly; pursuant to this statute, these lights must be in operation from dusk until dawn.
You should note that above is listed two ways in which negligence can arise in a car accident case; the standard of care that which developed over time under common law and the requirements of a statute. Each will impact on the way an experienced car accident attorney will approach successful resolution of a plaintiff’s claim.
The basic elements governing every negligence claim involve proving a duty, breach of that duty, causation, and damages. But when a statute is broken, the offender may be “negligent per se”. What does this mean? It means that the plaintiff does not have to show what a reasonable driver would have done under the same or similar circumstances. Rather, the plaintiff would have to prove instead that the statute was violated.
Negligence per se, however, does not equate to automatic victory for the plaintiff. This is because the plaintiff still must prove that the negligent act was the proximate cause of his or her injuries. In order for a plaintiff to show causation, he or she must give evidence that the injury was the natural, direct and uninterrupted consequence of the defendant’s negligence. Therefore, a defendant can concede that he or she violated a traffic statute, but then argue that something greater was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
An accident that grew out of a motorist’s failure to properly employ headlights or taillights may create a situation where negligence per se applies. An experienced attorney will then prove that such was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Once this is established, the attorney will then go about giving evidence to a jury that details the damages to which the defendant is liable for paying.
Other types of motorist behaviors that may lead to negligence per se are:
- Failing to yield the right of way;
- Failing to obey traffic signals;
- Not stopping at stop signs;
- Drunk driving;
- Driving under the influence of drugs;
- Texting while driving;
- Talking on a phone while driving; and
- Many other statutory violations.
The attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle car accident cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County. Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents. Please contact us today to receive a free case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.