Automobile negligence and liability is an area of the law for which Texas has no specific legislation. Cases dealing with this subject matter are forced to rely on the common law and case law for negligence. A driver of an automobile generally owes a duty of care to other drivers, pedestrians or anything that may be affected by the operation of that vehicle.
The operator of a motor vehicle is said to have the duty to operate that vehicle in the manor that a reasonably prudent person would operate that vehicle.
The driver must act as any sensible person would have in the given situation. If a person breaches this duty, thereby causing an injury they may be held liable for the damage that they cause. In order to show that a person has not used reasonable care, party bringing the suit must show that a person had a duty, and they then breached that duty, the plaintiff must also show causation and damages. In Texas, the cases El Chico v. Poole and City of Glade v. Pike illustrate the afore mentioned elements of a negligence case.
Texas does have a large body of law outlining the rules for operators of motor vehicles. Known as the Automotive Code, the state sets standards by which not only drivers, but also local governments must conform. Any violation of these laws, which causes injury, will create a cause of action. A person who has violated any or these laws has breached his duty of care allowing for a presumption of negligence. The reasonable person, it is thought, would have obeyed the law. The problem is that under Texas Civil Code 601.005 a person cannot use a citation or any act of the state as evidence of negligence in a civil suit. A party would simply have to show the other parties lack of care through traditional means.
An example of this would be a person driving who runs a red light. In the course of running this red light he hits you, thereby injuring you. If that person is given a citation for running that red light the citation itself may not be used as proof of negligence. Nonetheless that driver has failed to exercise the care that a reasonable driver would have, thereby breaching the duty they had to exercise the requisite amount of care and causing you harm. That person may still liable to you for their actions regardless of whether or not a ticket may be used as evidence.
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