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Violation of a Traffic Law and How It Affects Negligence

  • By:David Vitola

Violation of a traffic law is prima facie evidence of negligence. This means that, if a defendant were violating a traffic law when they got into a car accident, this violation will help prove that the defendant was negligent. This will help prove negligence by establishing both breach and duty. The other elements, which are actual causation, proximate causation, and damages, still need to be proven independently.

Negligence arising from a violation of a traffic statute will not be relevant unless this particular violation is found to be the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. See Love v. Adams, 194 So.2d 55 (Fla. 1st DCA 1967). Whether or not the violation of a traffic law was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries will depend on what the trier of fact decides. Id. The trier of fact is normally a jury in these types of cases.

Even if there is enough evidence of negligence to create such a question of fact, a defendant’s violation of a traffic law is not conclusive proof that the defendant will be liable. Simply because a defendant admits that he was going 5 mph above the speed limit does not necessarily mean that he was negligent. The court will still need to look to the surrounding circumstances of the case before they can make a determinative finding.

Example: McCabe v. Watson

In this case, the defendant improperly parked his car in violation of a traffic law, leaving his car protruding onto the street. McCabe v. Watson, 225 So.2d 346 (Fla. 3d DCA 1969). In an effort to avoid the defendant’s vehicle, an oncoming driver veered onto the wrong side of the street and hit the plaintiff. Id. The court found that the improper parking of defendant’s vehicle might have proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury and was a question of negligence that the jury should decide. Id.

Determining whether a violation of a traffic law will act as negligence will require an experienced attorney who understands the intricacies of personal injury law. Call John today at 352-796-1390 and get the experience you deserve.

Posted in: Personal Injury Law

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