How Will the Courts Determine Who Is Responsible?
Snow and ice are a part of every New Jersey winter, often making the simple act of driving difficult. You may not be able to stop as quickly or you may lose control because of unseen (black) ice on the road. How do snowy or icy conditions on the roads affect the potential liability of parties when there’s an accident? Can the person who lost control and crashed into you argue that it was nobody’s fault, that it was the weather that caused the accident? Can they argue that you assumed the risk of an accident when you chose to drive in inclement weather?
How the Law Defines Negligence
Though a personal injury lawsuit can be filed when a person intentionally causes harm, most claims are based on allegations of negligence. To prove negligence, you must show that the person from who you seek compensation (the defendant) failed to act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. Accordingly, when a jury attempts to determine whether a person is liable, it will look at their conduct and ask what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.
While New Jersey has laws that prohibit driving with snow or ice on your vehicle, there are no laws that ban motorists from being on the roads in snowy weather. A motorist will generally not be held to have assumed the risk of an accident simply by being on the roads in winter weather. However, a jury may (and very likely will) conclude that, in snowy or icy conditions, drivers should use greater caution than in good weather, but generally won’t absolve a person from liability because of the weather. Furthermore, the jury may find that, while the defendant was driving too fast for the existing road conditions, other parties to the accident also failed to use reasonable care.
Contact the Law Office of Howard D. Popper
At the Law Offices of Howard D. Popper, we can help protect your rights. For a free initial consultation to discuss your options after any type of personal injury, contact our office online or call 973-993-8787 to set up an appointment. We have offices in Morristown and Newton.
We handle all personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless we recover damages for your losses.