Negligent Driving and Violations of the Speed Limit
The most likely cause of an accident is negligent driving on the part of one or more of drivers involved in the accident. In order to be considered negligent, a person must have acted in a way that a reasonably prudent person would not have acted under the circumstances. One frequent cause of an accident is when a driver is moving at a higher speed than they ought to be. What speed a person should not exceed depends in part on the speed limit, but also on other circumstances.
Speeding and negligence per se
In personal injury cases based on negligence an injured person must show that the defendant acted as a reasonably prudent person would not have. However, if the defendant violated a law, the injured person might be able to argue that the defendant was negligent per se. Negligence per se occurs when a person violates a law that was enacted to protect the safety of the public, and when the person injured was someone the law was meant to protect.
If a person was driving in excess of the speed limit, and an accident occurs as a result, then they might be found negligent without the opposing party needing to show that they did not behave as a reasonable person would have. The legal speed limit is a law that is meant to prevent accidents and injuries related to vehicle collisions and pedestrian accidents. The law is therefore meant to protect the public in general, and basically, anyone on the road would be someone the law was intended to protect. However, the injured person would still have to show that the defendant's speed caused the accident. If the driver was traveling 5 miles per hour over the speed limit, and the injured person ran a stop sign and was struck by the barely speeding car, the violation of the speed limit was likely less to blame than the other driver's failure to stop at the stop sign.
Speed as negligence regardless of the speed limit
It is also possible for a driver to be found negligent for the speed that they were traveling, even if they were traveling at or below the speed limit. There are situations where weather or other circumstances might mean that a reasonably prudent person would travel at a speed lower than the legal speed limit.
For instance, if a driver was traveling through heavy rain, snow, or fog, it might be that their visibility was impaired by the weather, or that the road was slippery, making stopping more difficult. In a scenario such as this, a driver traveling 50 miles per hour in a zone where the speed limit was 55 miles per hour might still be found negligent for traveling at a speed that was dangerous and unreasonable under the circumstances.
Oftentimes, car accidents are the result of more than one negligent person. If one car was traveling above the speed limit, and another car swerved into the first car's lane because the driver was texting and not looking at the road, then there is a good chance both drivers were negligent, and that both drivers played a part in the cause of and severity of the accident.
Some states, although not many, practice what is called "contributory negligence." Under this system, if a person who suffered an injury in an accident was even the slightest bit negligent, they will not be able to collect compensation from the other party. However, most states practice "comparative negligence," where an injured person who contributed to the cause of the injury can collect compensation equal to the other party's liability. In this system, a person who is found to have been 40% responsible for their own accident can collect 60% of the damages. Many states prevent an injured person who was 50% or more liable from collecting any compensation.
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If you have been injured in any accident caused by someone else's negligence, call Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law for your free consultation today. Montlick & Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over 36 years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.
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