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Does the Standard of Care Change in Winter Weather?

Can a Person Be Held to a Higher Standard in Snowy or Icy Weather?

does-the-standard-of-care-change-in-winter-weatherIt’s winter in New Jersey and that means you can expect snow and ice on the roads, making conditions potentially more dangerous. Can a jury find that you were negligent and caused an accident, even if you were obeying the posted speed limit? In other words, is there a higher standard of care in inclement weather? Let’s take a closer look at how the law defines negligence.

To successfully prove negligence in a personal injury lawsuit, you must show three things:

  • That the defendant (person from whom you seek compensation) did not act as a reasonable person would
  • That the failure to act reasonably caused an accident
  • That you suffered actual losses because of the accident

How Does a Jury Determine the Standard of Care?

When determining liability, the jury will compare the actions of the defendant to what “a reasonable person” would have done, under the same circumstances. The law does not specifically identify exactly what that behavior would be, but allows the jury to make a determination, on a case-by-case basis, as to whether or not the actions of the potentially at-fault driver were reasonable. The two key components of that test are:

  • What would be considered reasonable behavior?
  • What were the unique circumstances?

Though there’s no guarantee that a jury would hold a driver to higher standard in snowy or icy weather, it’s highly likely. The jury could easily conclude that a reasonable person would know (or expect) that it would be more difficult to stop or control a car in snow or ice, requiring that the driver take extra precautions to minimize the risk of a collision. Those extra precautions would include driving at a slower speed and allowing more room for braking. Accordingly, even if the defendant was traveling below the posted speed limit, the jury may conclude that the speed was unreasonable, given the weather conditions.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

How the Judge and Jury Work Together in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

What Does the Judge Do? What Is the Responsibility of the Jury?

how-the-judge-and-jury-work-together-in-a-personal-injury-lawsuitWhen you’ve suffered any type of loss in New Jersey because of the wrongful acts or negligence of another person, you have the right to file a lawsuit to recover damages (financial compensation) for your losses. While most personal injury claims settle before going to trial, you may need to take your case to a judge and jury to get the outcome you want. Why is there both a judge and a jury at trial? What are their respective roles and responsibilities, and how do they work together?

The Role of the Judge

In any trial, whether it’s a criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit for damages, the judge makes all decisions of law. For example, if one of the parties seeks to introduce certain evidence, and the other party objects, the judge will consider the laws of evidence and make a ruling as to whether the evidence may legally be permitted at trial.

The Role of the Jury

The jurors are charged, in either a civil or a criminal proceeding, with making determinations of “fact.” Commonly, attorneys for each side will make factual assertions, which may often be vastly different. It is ultimately up to the jury to decide which version of the facts is more believable.

How Do the Judge and Jury Work Together in a Personal Injury Trial?

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the jury to determine the facts and to then apply the facts to the law. Because the jurors don’t know the law, they will receive instructions of law from the judge. For example, the judge will typically tell the jury that, if they make a particular factual conclusion—that the defendant failed to stop at a stop sign—they must come to the legal conclusion that the defendant was negligent, and potentially liable for damages.

Contact the Law Offices of David J. Karbasian, PC

Send us an e-mail today or call us at 856-667-4666 / 856-600-HURT to schedule an appointment to discuss your personal injury claim. Evening and weekend consultations are available upon request. We can come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary.

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