When a car accident happens in New Jersey, regardless of the weather, investigators, judges, and juries must consider the actions of the parties involved to determine fault. Most often, they look at actions that could signal negligence or irresponsible behavior on the part of one driver compared to the other. These negligent actions are always considered relative to the behaviors of a hypothetical “reasonably competent” person.
In bad weather situations, for instance, a reasonably competent person may change their behaviors to compensate for increased risks. Therefore, severe weather becomes just one more factor when determining fault, and it all comes down to the decisions the driver made in light of all the factors, not just the weather.
Learn how one might assess fault in these instances, and how a New Jersey car accident attorney may help in these cases.
The “Reasonable Person” Test
The “reasonable person” test that serves as a general litmus for negligence can reveal a lot about a driver’s behavior. If, for instance, a driver decided to ride closely behind someone else, a reasonably competent person would likely recognize that the decision could increase the likelihood of an impact should the person in front of them suddenly stop short.
Leaving adequate space, driving the speed limits, avoiding erratic behaviors like sudden lane changes, and staying focused on driving are all behaviors that a reasonably competent person might exhibit given their knowledge of driving risks.
Safe Driving in Sunshine, But Negligence in Snow
However, a reasonably competent person would also recognize how weather affects their driving risks. So, for instance, if they face overcast skies and moderate showers in the late afternoon, they might activate their headlights to improve visibility. If the roads are packed with heavy snow and ice, they may slow their speed to a crawl to avoid losing traction and colliding with others in traffic.
Therefore, even when conditions are rough outside, the behaviors of the driver in response are all that matters. Someone could have been driving the speed limit, leaving space and obeying all traffic laws during heavy showers, but they can still be deemed at fault if a reasonable person would have realized that traveling slower in response to the lowered visibility and traction would have made more sense.
On the other hand, if someone does take all the precautions that a reasonable person would, but they still lose control of their vehicle and collide with someone else, they may likely not face fault allegations given the circumstances outside of their control.
Determining Fault with the Help of a New Jersey Car Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in an accident during severe weather conditions, determining the fault of either party or whether there was no fault can be a complicated question. When someone seeks damages for an injury claim related to the accident, all factors in regards to driver behavior must, therefore, be considered. Something as simple as neglecting to rotate all weather tires can affect the claim and either party’s fault.
Your best course of action when seeking an injury claim after a severe weather accident is to contact a New Jersey car accident lawyer. They can help you examine all known factors and assess where fault likely lies in order to determine and possibly increase your chances of a successful claim.
Contact Peter N. Davis & Associates, LLC using the above phone number or our convenient contact form to receive a free consultation regarding your case.