Developing Theories of Negligence



Develop a Theory of Negligence

When you begin seeking compensation for your car accident-related injuries, it will be important to develop a complete and well-founded theory of negligence to support your claim. Essentially, your theory of negligence will be the narrative you promote to the insurance company. Your claim’s legal theory refers to the ideas or principles of negligent action by the at-fault party under which you present your claim.

For example, imagine an intoxicated at-fault driver rear-ends you while you are coming to a complete stop for traffic on the highway. Your legal theory would likely be that the at-fault driver is negligent because he was driving while impaired, in violation of N.C.G.S. § 20-138.1(a), and that he failed to follow at a safe distance, in violation of N.C.G.S. § 20-152. This would be a legal theory of the negligence of the at-fault driver.

While certain theories of negligence are stronger than others, all legal theories should be based on facts that can be proven and supported by the evidence in your claim. More particularly, it would be a mistake to believe that an at-fault driver was intoxicated simply because of the fact that they rear-ended your car. Hundreds of rear-end collisions occur for the simple reason that the at-fault driver is distracted or is following too closely, neither of which require nor support the idea that the driver is intoxicated. It is therefore paramount to the success of your claim that you maintain realistic expectations of what the evidence related to your claim is able to support.

Additionally, the idea that your evidence will be able to support a particular theory of negligence does not and will not ever mean that the evidence will always prove your theory correct.

A theory, whether legal, scientific or otherwise, is a notion or a system of ideas intended to explain something or to help understand why something occurred in a particular manner. Your legal theory for negligence must be supported by the evidence and grounded in reality.

Your theory of negligence is basically your argument as to why the at-fault driver or party should be held responsible. If and when you decide to present your claim directly to the insurance company, most, if not all, insurance adjusters will expect to see a simple yet well-developed theory of negligence supporting your claim for compensation.

To assist you in developing an appropriate and well-founded theory of negligence, review this list of the most common theories of negligence related to car accident claims used by all injury lawyers in North Carolina.

Alleging At-Fault Driver’s Negligence

  • Driving while impaired. N.C.G.S. §§20-138.1
  • Exceeding the posted speed limit. N.C.G.S. §20-141
  • Exceeding a safe speed under existing conditions. N.C.G.S. §20-141
  • Exceeding posted speed limit in a school zone. N.C.G.S. §20-141.1
  • Unlawful use of mobile telephone for texting. N.C.G.S. §20-137.4A
  • Failure to follow another at a safe distance. N.C.G.S. §20-152
  • Failure to obey traffic signs and signals. N.C.G.S. §§20-158 to -158.1
  • Failure to yield right of way. N.C.G.S. §§20-155 to 158.1
  • Driving a vehicle without due caution. N.C.G.S. §20-140(b)
  • Improperly entering or crossing an intersection. N.C.G.S. 20-158
  • Improper backing. N.C.G.S. §20-154(a)
  • Reckless driving. N.C.G.S. §20-140
  • Willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others. N.C.G.S. §20-140(a)
  • Driving left of center. N.C.G.S. §20-146
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road. N.C.G.S. §20-146
  • Driving on the wrong way on one-way street. N.C.G.S. §20-165.1
  • Improper overtaking. N.C.G.S. §20-149 to -150.1
  • Failure to yield right of way when being overtaken by another vehicle. N.C.G.S. §20-149(b)
  • Improper turning. N.C.G.S. §20-154
  • Failure to properly use turn signals. N.C.G.S. §20-154
  • Illegal street racing. N.C.G.S. §20-141.3
  • Failure to maintain, use or burn headlights. N.C.G.S. §20-129 to -131
  • Failure to properly maintain vehicle’s brakes. N.C.G.S. §20-124
  • Failure to maintain vehicle’s tires in a safe and proper condition. N.C.G.S. §20-122 to -122.1
  • Improper equipment:
    • Horns. N.C.G.S. §20-125
    • Mirrors. N.C.G.S. §20-126
    • Turn signals. N.C.G.S. §20-125.1
    • Windows and wipers. N.C.G.S. §20-127
    • Speedometer. N.C.G.S. §20-123.2
  • Parking or stopping on a highway. N.C.G.S. §20-161
  • Driving on or through sidewalk or safety zone. N.C.G.S. §20-160
  • Driving an overloaded or overcrowded vehicle. N.C.G.S. §20-140.2
  • Improper or excessive load. N.C.G.S. §§20-116 to -118
  • Failure to use red flag or lights at end of load. N.C.G.S. §20-117
  • Failure to yield right of way to a pedestrian at a crosswalk. N.C.G.S. §20-173
  • Failure to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian not in a crosswalk. N.C.G.S. §20-174(e)
  • Transporting child under 16 years old in open bed of vehicle. N.C.G.S. §20-135.2B

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