Traffic Laws and Car Accidents

There are several key parts of any car accident claim. The victim or the victim’s family must show that the driver was negligent and that the negligence was the cause of the accident. If a Florida car accident lawyer can show both negligence and causation, then the case will move on to the damage phase.

In the damage phase, the lawyer will ask for payment for all past and future medical expenses, all past and future wage and income losses, and compensation for physical pain and emotional suffering. There is no requirement to show that a driver broke any Florida traffic laws. Negligence includes such things as the bad judgment under the circumstances. It includes being careless – not doing what a reasonably prudent driver would do.

A few examples

A driver who travels 30mph on a road marked 30mph might normally be driving correctly. But, if it is dark, raining heavy, and traffic is tight – then driving 25mph or slower may be wise while driving 30mph may be irresponsible. Even in good conditions, drivers need to use common sense. For example, a driver should not pass unless he is sure he can move from one lane to the other and back again

Proof a violation of traffic laws is not a requirement

Even when a victim is struck by a driver who is speeding or who violates a specific traffic law, there is no requirement to show that the driver did violate a specific law. All a jury needs to know is that the driver’s speed was not what other drivers would do and that the speed was the cause of the car crash.

In fact, in most cases, evidence of a traffic violation is not admissible. Just because a driver pleads guilty to driving 10 miles over the speed limit does not mean the victim can use the violation of the traffic laws in the civil case.

Traffic citations

Often, a driver will plead guilty to a traffic citation because it is not worth the cost or time to contest it. A traffic citation is not a criminal violation.
That a driver did violate traffic laws does serve though as a strong indicator that a driver was negligent.

Trial lawyers do have the right to question the police officer and have the police officer testify in court. They do have the right to show a driver was traveling over the speed limit, failed to yield, or that the driver was texting while driving. The facts surrounding the illegal conduct can be introduced.

Some of the many traffic violations that often cause car accidents in Florida to include the following:

Florida traffic laws are outlined in chapter 316 of the Florida statutes. One example law provides:

316.183 Unlawful speed Section 1

“(1) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event, speed shall be controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance or object on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.”

316.183 Unlawful speed Section 2

“(2) On all streets or highways, the maximum speed limits for all vehicles must be 30 miles per hour in business or residence districts, and 55 miles per hour at any time at all other locations. However, concerning a residence district, a county or municipality may set a maximum speed limit of 20 or 25 miles per hour on local streets and highways after an investigation determines that such a limit is reasonable. It is not necessary to conduct a separate investigation for each residence district. The minimum speed limit on all highways that comprise a part of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways and have not fewer than four lanes is 40 miles per hour, except that when the posted speed limit is 70 miles per hour, the minimum speed limit is 50 miles per hour.”

There are other parts to this statute that regulate the speed of bus drivers, approaching curves and hill crests, and other criteria.

Other laws

Some other traffic violation rules include the following:

  • Traffic control signal devices.
  • Pedestrian control signals.
  • Flashing signals.
  • Lane direction control signals.
  • Display of unauthorized signs, signals, or markings.
  • Interference with official traffic control devices or railroad signs or signals.
  • Traffic infraction detectors; placement and installation.
  • Detour signs to be respected.
  • Duty to yield to highway construction workers.
  • Requirements of flagpersons.
  • Driving on the right side of the roadway; exceptions.
  • Duty to yield to public transit vehicles.
  • Passing vehicles proceeding in opposite directions.
  • A vehicle approaching an animal.
  • Overtaking and passing a vehicle.
  • When overtaking on the right is permitted.
  • Limitations on overtaking, passing, changing lanes, and changing course.
  • Further limitations on driving to the left of the center of the roadway.
  • No-passing zones.
  • One-way roadways and rotary traffic islands.
  • Driving on roadways laned for traffic.
  • Following too closely.

Additional motor vehicles

In addition to the traffic laws, there are other laws that an experienced car accident lawyer will likely use on your behalf.

  • There are financial responsibility laws that require that a car owner have minimum liability insurance
  • Some laws require that a driver assist in case an accident causes an injury or death
  • Laws in Florida exist that require a driver to report accidents with minimal property damage
  • Some laws require that drivers have a valid license.
  • Drivers of commercial vehicles must have a current and valid commercial driver’s license