Negligent Driving Car Accidents
In Massachusetts, a typical car accident lawsuit will be filed under a theory of negligence. The reason for this is because most car accidents in Boston are the result of negligent driving. Before we discuss the elements of negligence in the legal context, is helpful to understand what it means to drive in a negligent manner. To this end, it might be helpful to look at some examples of negligent driving.
Common examples of negligent driving that result in Boston car accidents:
- Distracted driving
- Driving while tired
- Driving while intoxicated
- Running red lights
These are just a small sample of the various types of negligent conduct that often result in a serious or even deadly Boston car accident. If you are interested in learning more about specific causes of car accidents and where on the road these accidents are likely to occur, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publishes a report to Congress called the National Motor Vehicle Safety Crash Causation Survey.Distracted Driving and Boston Car Accidents
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of serious or fatal car accidents in Boston. While many people engage in distracted driving on a regular basis, many people aren’t sure what the terms means or fail to understand how widespread the problem has become.
To get an idea how serious distracted driving has become, we only need to do a quick internet search to learn that NHTSA has an entire website dedicated to the dangers of distracted driving. As discussed on this website, while there are many common distractions to a driver, including the ones listed above, as well as eating or drinking, personal grooming, reading maps on paper or on a phone, using a GPS, and using a car stereo, it is texting while driving that is the most concerning.
The reason texting while driving is such an alarming behavior is because it results in multiple distractions to the driver that are all occurring at the same time. It is helpful to understand the level of attention it takes to safely drive a car. When we first learned to drive after obtaining our learner’s permit, we likely sat nervously behind the wheel in a parking lot with an even more nervous parent or perhaps a driving instructor. We were careful to think about everything we were being asked to do, because driving was a new experience and nothing was second nature. Once we passed the driving test and got a license, driving was still new and exciting. However, this is not to say it wasn’t dangerous at this age, as AAA frequently warns us about when it discusses the “100 Deadliest Days” for car accidents during the summer months when new drivers hit the roads in record numbers.
However, after years of driving, it becomes second nature, and that means drivers become less concerned about the amount of care and attention it takes to safety operate a motor vehicle to avoid a car accident with serious personal injury.
To drive a car safely, the driver must be able to process a tremendous amount of different stimuli at the same time. This includes visual, audio, and tactile. When you are approaching an intersection and you see a car stop short, you must appreciate the situation and respond accordingly. For this reason, NHTSA calls driving a divided attention task.
When you are texting while driving, you are diverting your eyes (visual) from the road. You are also pressing buttons, which requires you to refocus your manual attention, and all of this causes you to divide your cognitive attention to think about the message. In other words, when you text you are not looking at the road, you are not properly handling the vehicle controls, and you are not thinking about driving. While this may only be for a few seconds, it is often enough to cause a serious or fatal Boston car accident.
If you are driving while tired, you may be drifting off in thought, you may be closing your eyes, and actually falling asleep. Even if you do not fall asleep, you may be sluggish in both physical and mental tasks required to avoid crashing your vehicle. This is similar to the problems associated with driving while intoxicated, though that conduct is much more likely to result in a serious car accident. In fact, more Americans have been killed drunk driving accidents that in our nation’s major military conflicts.
Now that we have discussed some examples of negligent driving, it is helpful to understand how negligence cases work in the Commonwealth. In order to prove that a defendant who caused a serious car accident with personal injury is liable under a theory of negligence, it is necessary to establish the following four elements as outlined in the Massachusetts Superior Court Civil Jury Instructions. Those elements are as follows:
This first element is to establish that the driver who is at fault in the accident owed a duty of due car to the plaintiff. In our legal system, generally private citizens do not owe a duty of care to others unless certain conditions apply. For example, if a person is walking and sees someone bleeding in the street, that person has no legal duty to do anything to help the victim. While many people agree there is a moral obligation to check on the victim or dial 911, the law generally does not impose such a duty.
However, if you were the reason that person was injured, you would have a legal obligation to assist the victim, because you put the person in peril. Another reason you might have a duty to act is if you were a police officer on duty. A police officer has a contractual obligation to assist someone in need. The same would be true for a lifeguard who sees a drowning victim in his or her pool. While another guest would not be legally required to jump in and save that person, the lifeguard certainly would be required to do so, based on his or her employment contract.
Another reason someone might have a duty of due care imposed upon them would be if that requirement was imposed by law. Anyone who drives a motor vehicle in Massachusetts owes a duty of due care to others on the roads and sidewalks who may be victims of a driver’s negligent conduct.
If that driver violated a traffic law or otherwise acted in a careless manner, and that caused an accident, this could satisfy the breach and causation elements. Damages is the legal term of the financial loss you suffered, including pain and suffering, medical expenses, and special damages.Some of our Successes:
- $2,000,000 – Wrongful Death of a passenger in an auto accident
- $1,250,000 – Child injured in an auto accident
- $750,000 – Passenger not properly secured in a disability van
If you have been injured by the negligence of a motor vehicle driver in Boston, we work to help you recover damages.
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