The Criminal Consequences of Breaking Traffic Laws
Each state has a comprehensive set of laws regulating automobile and pedestrian traffic. Anyone who has received a ticket for speeding or jaywalking has committed a criminal offense. The severity of the penalty depends on the violation. For example, speeding is typically considered to be a citable offense warranting no jail time, but only a relatively low fine. In contrast, reckless driving may be punished as a class 1 misdemeanor or a more serious offense if it results in serious bodily injury.
The Civil Consequences of Traffic Violations
The violation of state traffic law does not trigger civil liability by itself. The civil justice system is designed to rectify harms committed between persons. For example, the act of speeding alone does not necessarily imply that another person was harmed—although many people may be offended by the act in certain situations. It is only when a traffic violation results in an injury to another person or their property that the violator may be held civilly liable.
In general, a person is liable for negligence if they injure someone as a result of their failure to take reasonable steps to avoid that harm. All persons are held to a minimum standard of care to avoid causing harm to others.
For example, if a person was driving down the road at a reasonably safe speed and distance from under the circumstances, but was unexpectedly struck by lightning, causing their car malfunction and careen into another car, they are probably not liable for negligence.
However, if a person collided with a car because they were responding to a text message on their phone and failed to notice that the vehicle in front of them suddenly stopped, they likely liable for negligence. That is because a reasonable person would understand that diverting one’s attention from the road in front of them is not safe.
Generally, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the defendant breached their duty of care. This requires them to present evidence in court as to what a reasonable person would do in similar circumstances.
Traffic laws, such as those prohibiting drivers from texting while driving, can be used as evidence of the applicable standard of care in a negligence case. When a person violates a traffic law, they are considered negligent per se—a Latin term meaning “in itself”—and they are liable for damages if such a violation was the legal and proximate cause of another person’s injury.
For More Answers, Consult an Attorney from The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller
If you’ve been injured as a consequence of the negligent or wrongful conduct of another person, you might be entitled to a legal remedy. For a better understanding of your legal rights, you should get in touch with an experienced attorney from The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller. We have experience handling a variety of legal disputes involving personal injury law, including automobile accidents.
Contact our law firm at The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller or visit us online to schedule a free initial consultation about your rights today.