When an Accident isn't an Accident...


Accidents happen. Sure they do, but that doesn’t mean that they should. An accident usually isn’t just an accident but the result of actions or omissions which could have been prevented. Most accidents are the result of negligence. What is negligence? What does it mean in terms of an accident? What does it mean to be negligent in a car accident or an accident involving an 18-wheeler?


Many regularly throw around the word “negligence” without having a complete understanding of its meaning or its significance when it comes to auto accidents and truck accidents. “Negligence” is a legal term and a legal cause of action. If someone is negligent, then they may be liable to someone injured or who suffers damage as a result.


In its most simple terms, “negligence” simply means a breach of a duty – a duty to exercise reasonable care. So, negligence is a failure to exercise reasonable care – that care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in the same or similar circumstances. What would a reasonably prudent person do? While that may sound confusing, it gets even more complicated.


With respect to auto accidents, negligence can be shown in other ways as well. Alabama law contains the “rules of the road” which prescribe how one must operate a motor vehicle on public roads. The rules of the road include such things as stopping at red lights, stopping at stop signs, how and when to yield the right of way to another vehicle, maintaining proper distance between vehicles, signaling stops and turns, and obeying the speed limit. A violation of the rules of the road by a driver is another way to show that driver as negligent under the law.


With respect to 18-wheelers, in addition to the rules of the road, negligence may also be shown by violations of applicable federal regulations which govern interstate commercial transportation by truck, which are promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These regulations are intended to prevent accidents involving 18-wheelers. If a truck driver violates these regulations, that may result in actionable negligence.


To recover compensation for an accident involving a car or truck, one must show more than negligence (whether a violation of the rules of the road, trucking regulations, or otherwise). One must also prove that he or she was damaged as a result. That damage may be property damage (damage to one’s own car or truck) or personal injury (bodily injury and mental anguish). And further, those damages must have been proximately caused by negligence. In other words, there was no intervening or other cause of the injury.


Sometimes the negligence which results in the damages or injury was not a result of the other driver, but negligence in the design or manufacture of one of the vehicles involved, some component within the vehicle or something else, such as a traffic signal, road signage, guardrails, or the road itself.


These are just the bare basic highlights of the multitude of issues that must be analyzed and evaluated with every car or truck accident. Don’t assume that an accident was just an accident. Let an accident lawyer experienced in the many facets of accidents involving cars and 18-wheelers, together with their expert consultants, evaluate your accident. At Watson McKinney, the evaluation is free. We are here and ready to help you.

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