Estate of Edmund M. Carman v. Tinkes: Negligence Per Se in Car Accident Cases

Estate of Edmund M. Carman v. Tinkes is an appeal that involved a deadly car crash between a Ford F-350 pickup truck and a Honda Civic. The driver of the Honda was operating the vehicle in the dark without headlights when he crashed into the commercial pickup truck at a traffic light.

pickup.jpgAccording to the court opinion, the Civic hit the corner of the pickup truck’s large steel bumper and was sheered in half. The driver of the Honda was killed in the car accident.

Our Spartanburg car accident attorneys know that this is different than most car accident lawsuits by the fact that the plaintiff was the estate of the driver of the Civic and not the pickup truck driver.

While it would seem likely that the at-fault party was the driver of the Civic, the plaintiff claimed that the pickup driver was negligent in several ways and was actually the responsible party. The claims of liability were based on the fact that the driver of the truck was allegedly making an illegal turn at the time of the accident, and that the bumper was dangerous and created the unsafe condition that resulted in the death of the plaintiff.

If it could be established that the defendant committed a traffic violation, the plaintiff may be able to prove what is known as a per se negligence. Under a per se theory, if certain conduct constitutes the violation of a state or local statue, it is considered negligence as a matter of law. However, this does not mean you automatically win your case, as you must still prove damages, as in any other negligence action.

Under South Carolina law, violation of a statue or municipal regulation can be looked upon as per se, but it is not an automatic finding of negligence. Courts have consistently looked at the violation of the statute or municipal ordinance in the total context of the alleged negligent conduct, so it is not necessarily an automatic finding of negligence.

In Carman, the plaintiff was found to lack any significant evidence that the driver of the pickup truck was in violation of any traffic laws at the time of the accident. The appellate court ultimately held that the plaintiff did not have a case beyond conclusory allegations and affirmed the dismissal of the car accident lawsuit.

However, a point that can be taken from this situation is that if you have been involved in a car accident that you believe was not your fault, you should contact a Spartanburg car accident lawyer to discuss the facts of your actual situation. The fact that the police may have cited you as being at fault in a vehicle crash report and even issued you a moving violation does not mean that you do not have a case.

Aside from the possibility of a defective part having caused the accident, your attorney’s auto accident investigator may determine that the police were not correct in their determination of who was at fault.

Contact the Spartanburg, South Carolina car accident lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Estate of Edmund M. Carman v. Tinkes, August 8, 2014, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
More Blog Entries:

Valedez v. Watkins Motor Lines – Crash Report Conclusions Improperly Admitted, July 28, 2014, South Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog

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