5 Driving Habits That Can Protect You From Liability in Accidents
This is a guest post courtesy of Marc Yonker, a Managing Partner and practicing lawyer of Winters & Yonker law firm.
The majority of states in America judge accidents as fault-based to some degree. This means that if you are considered to have been responsible for causing the accident, you are “at fault” and your insurance will cover the expenses for the other parties involved. Whether you are found to be the liable party for the accident, or at least partially contributing towards it, is determined by your state’s pre-set rules to determine fault. If you want to avoid being liable for a car accident, or even avoid accidents altogether, there are some driving habits to use that will protect you.
#1 — Keep to the Speed Limit, Even when others aren’t
Driving over the speed limit is one of the few absolute rules. If you were in an accident while you were speeding, you will be considered at least partially at fault for causing it no matter how the other party behaved. It can be difficult to prove innocence, unless there is corroborating evidence from cameras, witnesses, and so on. So while there is a slight margin for error, it is best to try and stay as close to the speed limit as you can. The added benefit of not speeding is you are less likely to be in an accident in the first place.
#2 — Do Not Drive While Distracted
Another of the absolute rules is if you are driving while distracted. In this case, ‘distracted’ can mean a number of things. Texting or operating your cell phone is the big one these days, unless you are using ‘hands-free’ accessories such as Bluetooth in order to safely use your phone while driving. It can also include:
- Eating or drinking
- Applying makeup, fixing your hair, and other grooming acts
- Getting dressed
- Changing your car’s radio, GPS, etc
Driving while distracted causes many accidents and deaths every year, much more than speeding. Avoid doing it or you increase your chance of being in an accident and dealing with the liability.
#3 — Always Use Your Turn Signals
This is a smaller habit, but you should always use your turn signals when changing lanes or making a turn. If the other driver has footage from their dashboard camera that you were not using your signal and that caused them to crash into you, you would be considered at fault. It is a good habit for helping avoid accidents at all, as you will not surprise other drivers with a sudden turn or lane change.
#4 — Don’t Play Loose with Traffic Lights, Signs & Lines
If you did not obey a traffic light, sign, or road lines leading into the accident that is another of the absolute rules of determining fault. If you do not stop at a red light or stop sign, or if you change lanes across a solid line, or turn where a sign says no turning, you will be found liable. You should make sure you are aware of them as you drive, and also make sure you know what each light, sign and line means so you can follow them properly. The DMV for example has an online test for road signs you can take.
#5 — Keep A Safe Distance with the 2-Second Rule
When you crash into the rear of the car ahead of you, it is an automatic assumption that you are at fault as a result of not keeping a safe enough distance. The only way you can overcome this assumption is by having some kind of proof, such as dashboard camera footage, showing that the driver ahead of you was responsible somehow (e.g., brake checking). You can follow the Two-Second Rule, where you wait until the lead car passes a road sign and you then count two seconds—if your car also passes that object within two seconds, you are too close. This driving habit is more to help you avoid rear end collisions in the first place, so you will not be liable for it.
About the Author:
Marc Yonker is a personal injury attorney in Tampa, Florida. He has a great passion for serving the public and providing justice for those in need through his position at the Winters and Yonker, P.A. He believes that teamwork is a key element for great success. This is one of the beliefs that helped form the law firm, with his partner Bill Winters. When someone is wrongfully injured they deserve just compensation for the hardships they have been put through. Winters and Yonker helps clients in their fight for justice. They strictly handle personal injury cases which mostly comprises of auto accidents and slip and fall accidents, among many other types of vehicle related accidents, death cases and even electrocutions.