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Joseph H. Downer, Attorney

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What is driver negligence?

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Many car accidents in North Carolina are caused by the irresponsible or negligent actions of a driver. Motor vehicle accident victims can file a negligence claim against the driver responsible for the accident to recover damages. A negligence claim involves proving the following four elements.


If you possess a driver’s license in the state of North Carolina, you have a legal duty to pedestrians, other motorists, and passengers in the roadway to exercise reasonable care when operating your vehicle.

Breach of duty

A motorist who fails to exercise reasonable care while operating their vehicle has breached the duty of care. In other words, the motorist acted in a way that a reasonable person would not in the same circumstances. Generally, violating one or more traffic laws is considered a breach of duty and is considered driver negligence. Some common forms of driver negligence include:

  • Following too closely behind another vehicle.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Driving at an excessive rate of speed for conditions.
  • Unsafely changing lanes or merging.
  • Failing to stop at a stop sign or red light.


Establishing driver negligence is not enough to recover damages for your accident-related injuries. You must also show that the driver’s negligence directly and proximately caused the accident and your resulting injuries. In other words, you will need to show that the driver’s actions caused your accident and would not have occurred had it not been for the driver’s negligence. You will also need to show that your injuries were foreseeable. However, keep in mind that under North Carolina’s contributory negligence laws, you cannot recover damages if you are partially at fault for your own accident.


Finally, you will need to establish that you suffered physical, emotional, mental, and/or financial harm as a result of the accident. Accident victims may recover compensation for their physical injuries, medical expenses, emotional distress, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, disfigurement and physical impairment, and pain and suffering.

Proving all four elements of a negligence can be challenging and may require the assistance of a personal injury attorney in your area. Your attorney can collect and present evidence in the best way possible to help you recover the damages you deserve.