Failing to look out for the safety of others is a major factor in a Colorado personal injury case.
When a driver fails to consider the safety of other motorists on the roadway and causes an auto accident, they are said to have fallen below the required level of reasonable care. While nobody is perfect and accidents happen, what separates a simple accident from an act of negligence is the standard of care required in a given situation.
In deciding who is legally responsible for an injury, the law asks one basic question: Did the person involved in the incident act with reasonable care, or did they act carelessly and contribute to the occurrence of the accident?
What is reasonable care?
Reasonable care is the standard of care and awareness for the safety of others that an average person would have under similar circumstances. This standard of care is expected in a number of situations, including between medical professionals and their patients, employers and employees, and drivers and those whom they share the road with – pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, as well as other motorists.
When operating a motor vehicle, a driver is required to exercise the same level of care that a reasonable and prudent person would under similar circumstances. This level of care includes:
- Following traffic laws.
- Obeying traffic signs or signals.
- Being attentive to others on the road.
- Not driving above or below the posted speed limit.
- Avoiding distractions, such as texting.
- Paying attention to weather or traffic conditions.
- Refraining from driving while under the influence of mind-altering substances, such as drugs and alcohol.
When someone fails to take reasonable care and another person is injured as a result, this failure to meet the reasonable standard could be considered negligence, which is a key factor in most personal injury cases.
What is negligence?
Negligence is the failure to exercise the care that a reasonable person would do in similar circumstances, or taking action that a reasonable person would not take. To prove a claim of negligence, an injured person must prove that the negligent person:
- Owed them a duty of care.
- Breached that duty by failing to uphold the relevant standard of reasonable care.
- The breach caused the person to sustain an injury.
- The injured person suffered damages as a result of the breach.
In some situations, the question of whether someone is legally responsible for an injury might hinge on whether or not a duty of care existed to protect against injuries for someone who is not expected to be at the accident site.
Were the damages foreseeable?
An additional consideration when determining negligence is whether the injury was “reasonably foreseeable” at the time of the alleged recklessness. That means that an ordinary person of average intelligence would have anticipated the consequences (the injury) that resulted from his actions. Defendants in personal injury cases often claim that the injured party should have thought twice before taking a risky action, although signs with warnings to “use at your own risk” do not prevent injury lawsuits concerning risks that were not foreseeable.