Rain slick roads, reckless driving, and excessive speed created a deadly combination in a San Antonio car crash.
The wreck took place at the intersection of Hollyhock Road and Babcock Road. According to police and witnesses, a pickup truck went through the light and t-boned a sedan driven by a 71-year-old woman. She was rushed to a local hospital where she was later declared dead.
Authorities insist that alcohol and drugs were not a factor. The driver is not facing charges at this time.
Duty in a Car Crash
An English case, 1932’s Donoghue v. Stevenson, is at the root of the American idea of legal duty in a car crash. In that case, a Scottish woman sued a local beer bottler after she found a partially-decomposed dead snail in the bottom of a bottle. In ruling that the defendant bottler was negligent, Lord Atkin articulated the neighbour test: “You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour,” a term that includes “persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected.”
In the United States, the neighbour test is defined as a duty of reasonable care. That duty has several components:
- Environmental: Drivers have a duty to drive especially cautiously during periods of rain, fog, darkness, and other environmental conditions that restrict visibility. The same principle applies when water or ice makes the roads slick.
- Behavioral: This area is technically negligence per se, and it involves items such as disregarding a traffic control device or changing lanes without signaling.
- Conditional: The duty of care begins before the actual crash. Drivers must abstain from alcohol or drugs, get plenty of rest, and focus on the road.
In the accident described above, it appears that the pickup driver violated the duty of care on two accounts: behavioral (running a stoplight) and environmental (traveling too fast for the conditions).
Damages in a car crash case include cash compensation for both economic losses, including past and future lost wages, as well as noneconomic losses, including pain and suffering.
Drivers who breach the duty of care and cause injury are liable for damages. For a free consultation with an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney, contact our office. We do not charge upfront legal fees in a personal injury case.