Duties Owed by Charlotte Drivers
All Charlotte drivers owe duties of various types to other drivers, pedestrians, and those using the public roads and highways. Any violation of these duties is negligence and wrongful and will lead to liability if injury or damage is proximately caused by the breach of any of these duties. If you or a loved one have been injured as the result of another driver’s negligence or wrongful acts, under North Carolina law, you may seek to recover money damages for all of your personal injuries as well as any damage to your car. The skilled automobile accident and personal injury lawyers at Brown, Moore & Associations are here to help.
To recover damages for negligence after an auto wreck, the injured party must prove the four elements of negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damage. As mentioned above, all drivers in Charlotte and in North Carolina owe a number of duties to others drivers and pedestrians. Here is what you should know.
Charlotte Drivers: Duty Of Ordinary Care
Every driver has a duty to exercise ordinary care to protect himself or herself and others from injury.
“Ordinary care” means that degree of care which a reasonable and prudent person would use under the same circumstances to protect himself or herself and others from injury.
Charlotte Drivers: Duty to Keep a Reasonable Lookout
In addition, in North Carolina, a driver has a duty to keep a “reasonable lookout.” Under North Carolina law, this means the driver must keep careful watch at all times and be on the lookout for other drivers and for those who are also using the roads.
Further, the duty to keep a reasonable lookout not only requires drivers to look, but also to see what ought to be seen. A jury, for example, will be instructed that a driver “must be reasonably vigilant and anticipate the use of the highway by others.”
Charlotte Drivers: Duty to Keep Your Vehicle Under Proper Control
In North Carolina, a driver has a duty to keep his or her vehicle under proper control. Thus, the driver must operate at safe speeds and turn/maneuver the vehicle in such a manner as to avoid losing control of the vehicle. Under various bad weather conditions, this duty is heightened. Such conditions include:
- Ice and snow;
- Slick road conditions;
- Excessive glare from the sun;
- Fog; and
With respect to speed, under many conditions, a “safe” speed may be a speed that is less than the posted or allowable speed limit for that portion of the highway or road. Driving faster than the posted speed limit is considered negligence in itself. Under some circumstances, driving too slowly—particularly without the use of hazard lights and/or other warnings—can be a violation of a driver’s duties. A driver’s duty to keep his or her vehicle under proper control also requires the driver not to drive recklessly or in wanton disregard of the law (such as street racing).
Charlotte Drivers: Duty to Follow Traffic Laws, Signals, and Signs
All Charlotte drivers are duty-bound to follow traffic laws and traffic signals/signs. This includes lights, stop signs, one-way signs, merge indicators, etc. If a driver does not obey and abide by such laws and signs, and as a result the driver hurts someone, the driver is negligent.
The duty to follow traffic laws, signals, and signs also includes the duty to drive within your own lane and on your own side of a divided highway, to turn correctly, to obey the rules regarding passing, and to obey similar rules and highway procedures.
Charlotte Drivers: Duty to Not Drive While Impaired
Driving while under the influence is a crime in North Carolina. This includes driving under the influence of drugs (including prescription and over-the-counter drugs) or alcohol.
Charlotte Vehicle Owners: Duty To Keep Your Vehicle In Good Repair
In general, every owner of a car or truck or other motor vehicle must keep the vehicle in good repair. For example, you must keep your tail-lights in good operation so they are clearly visible from 500 feet in normal conditions. If your tail-lights are not properly functioning, and as a result, you cause a collision, then such will be considered negligence in itself. See White v. Mote, 270 N.C. 544 (1967). There are many other examples where good repair is required. Among these are windshield wipers, headlights, tires and proper tire inflation, mirrors, and other mechanical features of your vehicle.
Charlotte Drivers: Duty Towards Pedestrians
All North Carolina drivers have a heightened duty of care with respect to pedestrians and others who are not in vehicles. For example, if you are at a crosswalk and fail to let the pedestrian proceed when a “walk” signal is given, you have violated your duty of care to the pedestrian. Even if the signal says, “Don’t walk,” you still must allow the pedestrian to get safely across the street.
Charlotte Drivers: Duty Towards Children
Similarly, all Charlotte drivers have a heightened duty of care with respect to children who are walking or who are riding bicycles near a road.
If any driver sees or is aware that children are near a road or highway, such driver must act with greater caution. Various factors are to be considered including:
- Apparent age the child;
- Whether the child is alone or accompanied by adults;
- Whether the child (or another child) might be concealed and dart out into traffic;
- Whether or not the children are helmeted; and
- Whether or not you are driving in a school zone.
A North Carolina driver is expected to recognize that children may act on childish impulses putting themselves in danger.
Contact an Experienced Charlotte, North Carolina Car Wreck Attorney Today!
If you and/or a loved-one has been in a car wreck in Charlotte, North Carolina, contact an experienced and proven Charlotte personal injury lawyer like those at Brown, Moore & Associates. We offer free consultations. Contact our office today.