General Negligence: To establish a claim for (general) negligence, you must prove (1) that the defendant was negligent, (2) that you were harmed, and (3) that the defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing your harm. CACI 400. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care to prevent harm to oneself or to others. A person can be negligent by acting or by failing to act. A person is negligent if he or she does something that a reasonably careful person would not do in the same situation or fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do in the same situation. CACI 401. Auto Accidents (Motor Vehicles and Highway Safety):
- Basic Standard of Care: A person must use reasonable care in driving a vehicle. Drivers must keep a lookout for pedestrians, obstacles and other vehicles. They must also control the speed and movement of their vehicles. The failure to use reasonable care in driving a vehicle is negligence. CACI 700.
- Right-of-Way: When the law requires a driver or pedestrian to “yield the right-of-way” to another vehicle or to a pedestrian, this means that the driver or pedestrian must let the other vehicle or the pedestrian go first. Even if someone has the right-of-way, that person must use reasonable care to avoid an accident. CACI 701. However, if a driver or pedestrian reasonably believes that another driver or a pedestrian has given up the right-of-way, then he or she may go first. CACI 702.
- Left Turns: A driver who is attempting to make a left turn must make sure that no oncoming vehicles are close enough to be a “hazard” before he or she proceeds across each lane. A “hazard” exists if any approaching vehicle is so near or is approaching so fast that a reasonably careful person would realize that there is a danger of a collision. CACI 704.
- Speed: Failure to drive at a reasonable speed is negligence. Whether a particular speed is reasonable depends on the circumstances such as traffic, weather, visibility and road conditions. Drivers must not drive so fast that they create a danger to people or property. CACI 706. The speed limit is a factor the jury will consider in deciding whether or not a party was negligent. However, a driver is not necessarily negligent just because he or she was driving faster than the speed limit. But a driver may be negligent even if he or she was driving at or below the speed limit. CACI 707.
- Driving Under the Influence: The presumption of intoxication based on a 0.08 blood level applies to criminal prosecutions only, not to civil cases. For purpose of a civil suit, a driver is “under the influence” when he or she has consumed an amount of alcohol or drugs that impairs his or her ability to drive in a reasonably careful manner. CACI 709.
- Duties of Care for Pedestrians and Drivers: The duty to use reasonable care does not require the same amount of caution from drivers and pedestrians. While both drivers and pedestrians must be aware that motor vehicles can cause serious injuries, drivers must use more care than pedestrians. CACI 710.
- Passenger’s Duty of Care: A passenger is not required to be aware of the conditions on the highway and is entitled to expect that a driver will use reasonable care. However, if a passenger becomes aware of (i) a danger on the highway, or (ii) the driver’s impairment or failure to use reasonable care, then the passenger must take reasonable steps to protect his or her own safety. CACI 711.
- Failure to Wear a Seat Belt: Your damages could be lessened or avoided altogether if the defendant proves that (1) a working seat belt was available, (2) a reasonably careful person in your situation would have used the seat belt, (3) you failed to wear a seat belt, and (4) your injuries would have been avoided or less severe had you used the seat belt. CACI 712.
- Vehicle Owner Liable for Permissive Use by Another Driver: You can establish a claim against the vehicle owner if (1) another driver was negligent in operating the owner’s vehicle, (2) you were harmed, (3) the person owned the vehicle when you were injured, and (4) the owner, by words or conduct, gave permission to the other driver to use his or her vehicle. If the vehicle owner and operator are related or are employer and employee, that relationship may support a finding that there was implied permission to use the vehicle. If the operator in turn authorizes a third person to operate the vehicle, the third person may be considered to have used the vehicle with the permission of the owner. CACI 720.