Motorist Negligence In Child Dart-Out Cases

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 What are the Duties of Drivers?

If a driver is traveling at a safe speed and is obeying the rules of the road, they are not likely to be held liable if a child suddenly enters the road and is injured. There are however, many considerations which can lead a driver to be found at least partly at fault, including:

  • Speeding;
  • Failing to yield;
  • Disregarding traffic signs; and
  • Other improper driving.

Motorists are not ordinarily required to anticipate a child running out in front of their vehicle. This is especially true in cases where the driver does not have any knowledge of children being near the road and cannot be expected to reasonably discover their presence.

A driver, however, who is aware or should be aware of children being in the vicinity has a duty to exercise reasonable care for their safety. This reasonable care is a higher standard than that for adults because it requires the driver to anticipate childish conduct.

Examples of evidence that a child or children may be near the road may include but are not limited to:

  • Ice cream trucks;
  • Nearby schools;
  • Bus stops; and
  • Near parks.

Because of this, the question of whether a driver was negligent in a child dart-out case usually revolves around whether the driver knew or should have known children were in the area. A motorist who is following the rules of the roadway will not likely be held liable for injuries to a child who darts in front of or into the side of their vehicle so suddenly that they cannot stop or otherwise avoid causing an injury.

How Do Driver Errors Factor into Personal Injury Claims?

In many cases, automobile accidents may truly be just that, accidents, meaning that neither party is at fault. This may be due to factors including:

  • A mechanical error in the vehicle;
  • Weather conditions; or
  • A third party who causes the accident.

Some automobile accidents, however, can be caused directly by driver error. Although accidents are rarely intentional, a driver may be held liable according to the legal concept of negligence, or failure to uphold the duty to drive safely.

Therefore, when determining who is liable for an automobile accident, the court usually needs to examine whether driver error caused injury to the other party.

What Are Some Examples of Driver Error?

Driver errors may occur in many forms. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, some forms of driver error may lead to legal liability more easily than other forms.

For example, the failure to follow traffic signs and signals will most likely lead to legal liability. Other examples of driver error may include, but are not limited to:

  • Failure to yield to other drivers;
  • Unsafe driving or recklessness;
  • Road rage;
  • Speeding and other moving violations;
  • Distracted driving, which can include:
    • cell phone/smart phone use while driving;
    • applying makeup or shaving while driving;
    • programming a GPS device while driving; and
    • other activities which may be distracting;
  • Failure to correct broken car parts, for example, brake light or headlights
  • Dangerous maneuvers, including:
    • unsafe passing;
    • dangerous turning; or
    • following too closely;
  • Driving too slowly; or
  • Failure to securely park the car, causing the vehicle to roll away.

There are more serious errors, for example, drunk driving or intentionally causing an injury, which may be classified under criminal laws. The driving laws may vary by state and each jurisdiction may have different rules regarding the treatment of errors made while driving.

In addition, it is possible that both drivers committed errors. In these cases, a damages award may be reduced according to the liability of each party.

What is a Personal Injury Claim?

In a personal injury claim, a plaintiff states that they sustained an injury because of an act or a failure to act by the defendant. Injuries a plaintiff sustains may be physical injuries, mental injuries, or both types.

A court or a jury may award a plaintiff money damages for personal injury. An example of a mental health injury may include the emotional pain and anguish the plaintiff sustained because of the accident.

Physical injuries may include injuries to:

  • Limbs;
  • Organs; or
  • Other parts of the body.

An injury may not manifest instantly, but may instead develop over time. Personal injuries may also be inflicted unintentionally.

If an injury is the result of another individual’s negligence, a plaintiff may be able to file a lawsuit based upon their negligent behavior. Common examples of cases involving negligence include:

What Are the Elements of Personal Injury?

Personal injury laws are complex and if an individual has suffered an injury, they may benefit from consulting with a personal injury attorney. It is important to note that personal injury laws are separate from criminal laws.

When an individual files a civil lawsuit, such as a personal injury lawsuit, it is a civil lawsuit. With some incidents, a criminal action may be filed separately if the incident which caused the injury was criminal in nature.

It is also important to note that personal injury actions may fall into one of three categories, including:

Each of these categories of personal injury laws has its own set of elements which must be proven in order for the injured individual to win their personal injury case.

What is Negligence in Personal Injury?

Personal injuries are not always committed with the intent to impact another individual. They may occur as a result of an individual’s negligent behavior.

There are several elements which must be established in order to prove negligence in a personal injury case, including:

  • Duty:
  • Breach of duty;
  • Causation; and
  • Damages.

The duty of a defendant refers to the level of care which a reasonable individual would exercise in the same or similar circumstances. There is a standard of reasonable care which members of society owe to one another.

Once it is established that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, a plaintiff is required to show that that duty was breached. For example, a doctor who did not act with reasonable care when treating their patient.

The plaintiff is also required to show that the defendant’s action or lack of action was the actual cause of their injuries. This means there were no other intervening actions which caused the injuries.

The plaintiff is required to prove actual injury, or damages. For example, a plaintiff cannot collect damages under a personal injury case simply because another driver hit their car if no injury or damage to the vehicle occurred.

Should I Consult an Attorney about My Child Dart-Out Case?

A child dart-out case may be complex and emotional for all individuals who are involved. If your child was struck by a vehicle, a car accident attorney can explain your rights to you as well as assist you with collecting compensation for your child’s injuries.

If you were the driver of a vehicle who struck a child, your attorney can help protect you from liability and advise you of defenses which may be available in your case. As noted above, it will be important to show that you were obeying the rules of the road when the child entered the roadway in front of your vehicle.

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