What Is the Last Clear Chance Doctrine?

ELI5: Negligence

Let’s say you’re driving down the street and a guy pulls out in front of you. Instead of slamming on your brakes, you decide to teach him a lesson and continue going at the same speed. However, you didn’t intend to make quite as big of an impression as you did, and you accidentally rear end them. It’s their fault, right? After all, they did pull out in front of you. Well, although they pulled out in front of you, you may still be at least partially liable for any damages.


The Basics of Negligence

If you’ve get injured in the collision mentioned, and you file a personal injury claim, your attorney will likely mention “negligence” a few times. In order to get compensation for their clients, personal injury attorneys often need to build a convincing case to show that the defendant was negligent. In order to do this, the attorney must prove each element of negligence: duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. In order to prove duty, an attorney must prove that the defendant had a responsibility, or legal obligation, and that  the defendant’s actions were inconsistent with or  breached their duty. Then the attorney must prove that their client, the plaintiff Crypto Insider, has incurred damages as a direct result of the defendant’s breached duty. When a defendant’s negligence is the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, the defendant, or their insurance company may be ordered to compensate the plaintiff for their injuries.

It’s a vast oversimplification, but it’s important to understand the general idea before understanding last clear chance doctrine.

Who’s Liable?

Back to the scenario above,  remember you’re driving in the car, and the  car pulls out right in front of you. Your car hits their vehicle and  causes you to sustain injury. There’s a good chance that the driver of that car would be liable for your injuries. This is because that driver had a duty to yield to your right-of-way, and  they breached that duty by pulling out in front of you. This breach of duty caused you to need a trip to the hospital, and cost $5,000 worth of medical bills (damages). This is because the driver who hit you was likely negligent.

Last Clear Chance Doctrine

However, if you had plenty of time to slow down prior to the impact, and chose not to, you could also be found partially liable. This is because while  they may have had a duty to yield to your right of way, you also had a duty to avoid the collision under the last clear chance doctrine.  In some cases, a driver simply won’t be able to stop in time to prevent an accident. However, if the driver has an opportunity to prevent or avoid an accident, but does not, they may be partially liable for the injuries sustained in the accident. This doesn’t just apply to car accidents; whenever you have a chance to prevent injury, but you do not, you may have some liability if someone does become injured.

In States with Contributory Negligence 

When states have contributory negligence, it means that multiple parties can share fault for the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff may also have some fault for their injuries. Contributory negligence may also be called, modified comparative fault, or comparative negligence.

In states with contributory negligence, plaintiffs who fail to utilize their last chance to prevent the accident may be somewhat liable for their own injuries. In this case, a jury would reduce the settlement a plaintiff receives based on the  proportionate fault the plaintiff had for their injuries. So if the plaintiff were to be awarded a $100,000 by a jury , but the plaintiff was 10% liable, the judgment may be reduced by 10%, and  becomes a award for $90,000.00

Proving Last Clear Chance

It’s not always easy to prove that the plaintiff had the last clear chance to prevent the collision  and chose not to prevent it, or negligently failed to prevent it. When it’s not caught on camera, it can be difficult to determine what really happened. Insurance companies are always looking to protect their bottom line, so it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney who’s dedicated to advocating for your interests. In many cases, it’s not always clear who had the duty and, it may very well be that both parties breached their duty. In order to get the most out of your personal injury claim, it’s important to sit down with an attorney who can help you make informed decisions regarding your case.

When You’ve Been Injured and You Need a Lawyer

If you’ve been injured in a car crash and you need an attorney to represent your best interests, contact Moxie Law Group today. At Moxie Law Group, our attorneys are dedicated to advocating for our clients and winning the maximum compensation. If you’ve been injured, and you’re ready to file a claim, contact Moxie Law Group today.

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