What Are Common Examples of Negligence in Car Accidents?

AUTHOR: A.J. Bruning | December 20, 2023
What Are Common Examples of Negligence in Car Accidents?

In an instant, a car crash can turn your world upside down, causing not just physical injuries but also emotional stress. Dealing with the aftermath, like medical bills and other costs, can be overwhelming. Adding to the stress is the daunting task of determining fault. Common examples of negligence in car accidents are speeding, tailgating, and distracted driving.

When someone initiates a personal injury claim for a car crash, they need to show evidence of who is responsible for the accident. If the other driver is found to be at fault, they're expected to cover the losses. The injured party has to demonstrate that the other person's negligence led to the damage. In this post, we'll take a closer look at the abrupt nature of car accidents, and shed light on the process of finding out whether someone was negligent.

The Legal Duties of Drivers

Contact the St. Louis car accident lawyers at the Bruning Law Firm today.

To secure compensation after a car accident, the injured party must demonstrate that the other driver caused the incident. The legal process for establishing negligence in a car accident claim is governed by specific rules. An experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer can be instrumental in this process, helping you build a strong case to demonstrate negligence and seek the compensation you deserve. Initially, it involves illustrating that the at-fault party owed the victim a duty of care. This duty requires all drivers to prioritize each other's safety and act reasonably while on the road.


Common Examples of Negligence in Car Accidents

Negligence in motor vehicle collisions can appear in many forms. Driver error makes up a majority of cases, but other sources can also cause accidents.


An estimated 29 percent of traffic accident fatalities involve speeding. Fast speeds result in less time and distance for people to react to their environment. Speeders risk a collision with a car entering the street or a pedestrian on a crosswalk.

Speeding creates greater risks when a driver reaches a curve as well. The driver could slide off the road or flip the vehicle over.


A motorist becomes negligent if they tailgate another car. Tailgating is annoying behavior for many people, but the action is dangerous as well. Plenty of rear-end accidents happen because of tailgating.

The short distance between cars does not allow for a safe stop. Two vehicles can easily collide if the person in front suddenly applies their brakes. High speeds require longer stopping distances. While 10 feet seems enough at 25 mph, it's not enough at 55 mph.

Distracted Driving

Annually, around 424,000 people are injured in accidents with distracted drivers. Cell phones are a common source of distraction. Text notifications in particular take a driver’s eyes off the road. A few seconds to check a message is enough time for something to happen. Even phone calls can divert an individual’s attention.

Other sources of driver distraction are food, drinks, and the radio. These things cause people to take their hands off the wheel. Passengers also may take a person’s attention off the road. Sometimes drivers can even get lost in thought and become distracted. It's important for drivers to stay alert and pay attention to the road and other motorists.

A Lack of Precaution During Bad Weather

Around 21 percent of crashes involve weather conditions. No one can control the weather. However, motorists can view the prediction for the day and prepare. Even if they do not check the forecast, they should adapt quickly when the precipitation starts. Drivers can be negligent if they fail to take appropriate precautions. For example, drivers should reduce speed when roads become slippery so they have more time to react.

Also make sure the vehicle is in good working order. This is especially true in bad weather. If your windshield wipers don't work properly, it becomes a hazard for other drivers. This type of negligence can lead to an accident.

Poor Roads

Not all car accident negligence cases involve driver error. A collision may occur because the local government breached its duty of care. For instance, if the government designed an unsafe road or the road has large potholes, it can lead to a car crash. Government entities must inspect and repair roads to ensure they are safe for drivers.

Government negligence may occur during bad weather as well. Snow and ice increase the chance of a car crash. Government departments are responsible for clearing snow and ice. A delayed response means the city could be liable for an accident.

Defective Vehicle Parts

Vehicle manufacturer negligence also puts people at risk of car accident injuries. A company might cut corners when producing a vehicle part. As a result, they may create an unsafe car. Even a minor defect in the equipment can result in a significant risk of damage.

If a manufacturer knows of a problem with a batch of products, the company risks negligence if it does not issue a recall in time.

How Drivers Owe a Duty of Care

Drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road as a fundamental responsibility. This duty entails a commitment to operate their vehicles safely and reasonably. They must adhere to traffic laws, avoid reckless behavior, and take necessary precautions to prevent harm to others. This duty of care is a legal and ethical obligation to ensure the well-being and safety of fellow drivers, pedestrians, and anyone sharing the road. Failure to fulfill this duty can result in legal consequences if negligence leads to accidents or injuries. Some ways a driver exercises a duty of care include:

  • Adhering to Traffic Laws: Following speed limits, obeying traffic signals and signs, and respecting other rules of the road.
  • Avoiding Distractions: Staying focused on the road and refraining from activities like texting, talking on the phone, or other distractions that can divert attention.
  • Maintaining Vehicle: Ensuring the vehicle is in good condition through regular maintenance checks, including brakes, lights, tires, and other essential components.
  • Adjusting to Weather Conditions: Being cautious in adverse weather conditions, such as reducing speed on wet or icy roads and using appropriate headlights.
  • Yielding the Right of Way: Respecting other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists by yielding the right of way as required.
  • Using Turn Signals: Signaling intentions through the use of turn signals to communicate with other drivers.
  • Driving Sober: Avoiding driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any substance that impairs judgment or reaction time.
  • Exercising Caution in Construction Zones: Being particularly attentive and following posted guidelines in construction zones or areas with potential hazards.

Remain Vigilant

Another legal duty for drivers is to keep a lookout at all times. Motorists’ should always have eyes on the road and be aware of the vehicles around them. If a motorist remains vigilant, they will likely notice a sudden appearance of other vehicles, a pedestrian, or road hazards in time to prevent an accident.

The law expects motorists to see objects a cautious person would notice. A failure to do can result in liability.

Drivers Have a Duty of Care to Workers

Construction crews and police officers often work near or on the road: their professional responsibilities enhance their right to move about roadways. Motorists have a legal duty to street workers. They must slow down and adhere to the boundaries of traffic cones. If a worker enters the street, nearby drivers must notice them and avoid a collision.

Compensation Available for a Car Accident Claim

A single severe injury may cost someone thousands of dollars in hospital bills, follow-up visits, and medication. If a condition is significant enough, a person must spend more on long-term care. The financial struggle worsens if multiple injuries exist. In addition to medical expenses, vehicle repairs take more money out of the accident victim’s wallet.

Car accident claims allow people to get the money they need to pay collision-related bills. The insurance company assesses the damage and calculates how much to pay the claimant. The adjuster usually looks at the cost of repairs and medical care to determine the settlement.

However, the first offer the adjuster gives you might not be enough. You do not have to accept this first offer and can negotiate for more compensation. A personal injury lawyer with experience handling car accident cases can negotiate on your behalf. They will work with the adjuster to get a higher settlement.

If an insurance adjuster fails to offer a fair settlement or denies your claim, you can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit to recover damages.

Can You Recover Wages as a Self-Employed Worker?

Car accident claims reimburse people for damages like lost wages. Settlements may include past and expected future wages as well. To determine the value of lost income, people calculate the hours they did not work while they recovered. They must gather copies of their pay stubs for an accurate estimate.

However, the car accident victim may have a job as a freelancer or other type of self-employment. Recovering lost income is less straightforward since they do not work for a company directly. Some people worry they may be unable to recover damages as a result.

Nevertheless, your compensation does include missed earnings even if you are a self-employed worker. You may need to hire someone to perform job-related tasks because of your injuries. Moreover, the loss of profits and the ability to work entitle you to reimbursement.

Recent tax records can help you calculate how much the other party owes you. A car accident attorney can determine the dollar figure the at-fault driver should pay to help you recover compensation.

What if the Insurance Company Denies a Car Accident Claim?

A car accident lawyer is a valuable advocate if the insurance company denies your claim. Insurers generally have a reason, but some act in bad faith. The adjuster may not investigate the claim properly or reject it without a valid cause.

A lawyer experienced in handling car accident cases will be able to negotiate on your behalf and dispute why the adjuster denied your claim.

Insurers may deny car accident claims for various reasons. Here are some common reasons and how your lawyer can counter them:

  • Disputing Liability: Insurers may argue that their policyholder is not at fault. A lawyer can counter this by presenting evidence, witness statements, and a detailed analysis of the accident to establish the other party's negligence.
  • Pre-existing Conditions: Insurers might claim that injuries were pre-existing. A lawyer can counter this by providing medical records and expert opinions that link the injuries directly to the accident.
  • Lack of Medical Treatment: If the injured party delayed seeking medical treatment, insurers may use this as a reason to deny a claim. A lawyer can explain the reasons for the delay and provide medical evidence showing a clear connection between the accident and injuries.
  • Policy Exclusions: Insurers may cite specific policy exclusions. A lawyer can review the policy thoroughly and argue against misinterpretations or misapplications of policy terms.
  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claims: Insurers may deny claims under this coverage. A lawyer can counter by providing evidence of the uninsured or underinsured motorist's fault and the resulting damages.
  • Failure to Report Promptly: If the accident wasn't reported promptly, insurers may deny a claim. A lawyer can provide valid reasons for any delay and show that the delay did not prejudice the insurer.
  • Inadequate Documentation: If the claim lacks sufficient documentation, insurers may deny it. A lawyer can counter this by gathering and presenting comprehensive evidence, including photos, medical records, witness statements, and any other relevant documentation.

An adjuster’s reasoning may sound legitimate, but it may not be. You can dispute the denial if you believe the insurance company acted in bad faith. An experienced legal team has the resources to fight the insurer's decision. Car accident attorneys know what options may be available to you.

What if You Drove a Rented Car?

Sometimes, people get into motor vehicle collisions while driving a rental car. Since they do not own the vehicle, they might not know how the situation affects their claim. The rental company expects drivers to return the vehicles in the same condition as they received them. The obligation remains the same even if an accident is due to another driver's negligent actions. However, the company's agent does offer supplemental coverage when you begin the rental period.

The representative may provide someone with the option of personal accident insurance. The policy assists with some medical costs the renter or passenger receives. The rental insurance may give death benefits if a victim dies after the accident.

You might sign a collision damage waiver. The optional document means the business waives the costs of vehicle repairs or replacement after an accident. The rental company may offer personal effects coverage as well. This policy handles the price of damaged personal belongings.

Some people can use their car insurance plans to assist with repair costs. A policy may have comprehensive coverage and pay for damages to the rental car. Contact your insurer to ensure your plan will cover the expenses of a wrecked rented vehicle.

St. Louis Lawyers with a Regional Reach

Car Accident Lawyers of St. Louis Personal Injury Law Firm
Car Accident Attorneys at The Bruning Law Firm

When faced with the aftermath of a car accident in the St. Louis metropolitan area, securing the right legal representation is paramount. Our firm's commitment extends beyond the city limits of St. Louis. We serve clients throughout the region, including the Metro East, ensuring that individuals from Illinois find dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys who understand the intricacies of both Missouri and Illinois laws.

Navigating a car accident involves more than just understanding statutes of limitations; it requires familiarity with local court systems, case law, and the unique challenges posed by major city streets like Grand Avenue and in neighborhoods from LaClede's Landing to Delmar Loop, Soulard, Dogtown, The Hill, and Tower Grove. Trust The Bruning Law Firm to advocate for your rights and guide you through the complexities of a car accident claim in the St. Louis region. Call our St. Louis office at 314-735-8100 for a free consultation, or fill out the contact form on this website.

A.J. Bruning


I was born and raised to represent individuals who have been needlessly injured. I mean that literally. At a young age my father would tell me about the clients he was representing. I would meet them and take pride in their admiration of my father. I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer and represent clients that needed my help.

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