Was the Accident Caused by Snow or Ice or the Other Driver?

When an accident happens and you file a personal injury suit, the other driver will often claim that it was the weather’s fault for the crash and not their own.

Was the Accident Caused by Snow or Ice or the Other Driver?However, unless the weather was perfect at the time of the crash, it can be seen in New Jersey courts as a contributor to a car accident.  And even when the weather is perfect, other factors, like the setting sun in the driver’s eyes or the lack of light on a dark street, can influence a case. In reality, nearly all accidents are influenced by an exterior problem that made it more difficult—even slightly more difficult—to drive a vehicle.

However, that does not mean that every crash was avoidable or that every driver was without fault. Conditions like snow or ice do not excuse poor driving. On the contrary, poor conditions like these actually require drivers to exercise even greater caution and be even more attentive. A good lawyer knows this and refuses to let a driver off the hook when they caused a crash that hurt you, even if they claim that bad weather was to blame.

How Do Car Accident Lawsuits Work?

Car accident lawsuits are actually a type of personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury lawsuits are brought by people who have been hurt by someone else’s negligence and want to be compensated for their losses.
Personal injury claims must include each of the following four components:

1. The person they are suing owed them a legal duty to keep them safe or out of harm’s way.
2. That person did not uphold this legal duty.
3. This failure was the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
4. The plaintiff was, in fact, hurt in the accident.

Driver’s Have a Legal Duty to Keep Others Safe

Anybody who drives a car owes a legal duty to drive reasonably safely for the conditions found on the road. Determining what constitutes “reasonable safe driving” in any given circumstance can be difficult. However, some basic guidelines obviously need to be followed, including:

• Driving at a speed that is neither too slow nor too fast.
• Obeying traffic laws.
• Keeping a safe distance from the car in front.
• Being attentive enough for potential hazards to avoid them before creating an accident.

Even in pristine driving conditions, determining whether someone was driving reasonably safely can be difficult. For example, if someone was going five miles per hour over the speed limit, but so was everyone else on the road, does that automatically make them unsafe? In many cases, it falls to the jury to decide whether a driver’s conduct on the road was reasonably safe or not.

How Does The Weather Influence a Driver’s Legal Duty To Keep Others Safe?

How Does The Weather Influence a Driver's Legal Duty To Keep Others Safe?A driver’s legal duty to keep others safe on the road has this important aspect: they must adapt to road conditions. For example, someone driving at the speed limit and staying a two-car lengths’ distance from the car in front of them would be driving reasonably safely when the sun is shining. But when the roads are icy and snowing, that probably won’t be safe enough. So instead, the road conditions require the driver to slow down even more and increase their following distance.

When the weather is bad and driving conditions poor, drivers are legally required to adapt to ensure others’ safety on the road. However, when they fail to adapt their driving technique to the conditions they face, they can be held liable for the accidents they cause.

Poor Weather Does Not Take The Blame For Poor Driving

So, if you get hurt in a car accident in New Jersey, and the other driver claims they aren’t responsible because the weather was terrible, be assured that the weather does not automatically absolve them of their role in the crash. While the weather might have been horrible—icy roads, heavy rain, snow, or fog that reduced visibility, stiff gusts of wind that made it difficult to steer—drivers still have a legal responsibility to drive in a manner that is reasonably safe for those exact conditions. In other words, if the driver were driving the way he or she would in perfect conditions, then they were likely failing to uphold their responsibility to keep others safe.

In Sum, Bad Weather Demands Better Driving

When a potentially negligent driver tries to blame the weather for their role in a car accident that harmed you, it is often an attempt to avoid liability—that will fail. In summary, poor weather conditions actually require better and safer driving techniques than would have been necessary with nice weather.

Consult with Personal Injury Attorneys

The car accident and personal injury attorneys at The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson are accustomed to drivers claiming that the crash was the weather’s fault and not their own. But our attorneys can turn these claims back against them and use them to convince a jury that bad road conditions required the driver to drive even more safely than normal.

Using these legal tactics, we can fight for your interests, both in the courtroom with the jury and outside the courtroom with insurance companies.

With us fighting for you, you can be confident that everything will be done to ensure that you get the compensation that you need and deserve after the crash that hurt you.

Contact us at (609) 528-2596 in New Jersey if you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident and the other driver blames the weather.

Determining Comparative Negligence in New Jersey Auto Accidents

There is a multitude of reasons that accidents happen. Negligence is often cited as one cause of automobile accidents.

Determining Comparative Negligence in New Jersey Auto AccidentsWhen one takes to the road, they run the risk of being in an accident. When accidents happen, they aren’t always a clear case of one responsible party and one guiltless victim. Especially given the rise of subtle distractors like technology in cars, it is important to know how New Jersey law determines fault in accidents, so you can make sure you recover the full extent of the damages you may sustain if you are in an accident that was partially or fully someone else’s fault.

What is negligence?

There is a multitude of reasons that accidents happen. Negligence is often cited as one cause of automobile accidents. When a driver fails to act reasonably and within a standard measure of care, they can be considered negligent. While many factors can determine fault in a personal injury lawsuit, negligence is an oft used determiner of fault.

New Jersey is a state that abides by the laws of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence refers to the degrees of fault one or more parties has in causing an accident. In a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff has the burden of proving not only that another party was at fault for the accident but that they were not at fault for causing it. If the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit is found to have been 75 percent responsible for causing the accident that injured the plaintiff, the defendant will have to cover 75 percent – not the full total – of the damages to the plaintiff.

How is fault determined?

Under the New Jersey Comparative Negligence Act, insurance companies have the legal right to split fault into partiality. When proven, this impacts the amount a person can recover in damages. Fault and comparative negligence are noted in New Jersey Statutes Annotated (NJSA) 2A:15-5.2 and determined on a case-by-case basis. There is no sweeping law that governs how such determination is made. As such, a personal injury lawyer and/or the insurance company’s attorney will gather evidence to attempt to prove that their client had as little fault in causing the accident as possible or none at all.

How is fault determined?To do so, they will investigate the specifics of how the accident happened. In some cases, evidence of fault – complete or shared – is clear. In these cases, a plaintiff has a straightforward path to recovering damages; and with the support of a skilled personal injury lawyer, they will receive their fair share. On the other hand, there are cases in which the specifics of an accident, who was at fault, and how much fault can be claimed are a little less clear.

To determine fault, insurance companies will likely review the following:

  • the police report from the accident, including witness testimonies and submitted evidence from involved parties
  • the New Jersey traffic laws that pertain to the area in which the accident occurred, and how either party may have been negligent in abiding by those laws; including failure to signal, ignoring of traffic signs or lights, or failure to navigate the vehicle in such a way as to prevent the accident from occurring
  • evidence of driver distraction

As noted above, if your attorney in a personal injury lawsuit finds the other driver to have been negligent or otherwise at fault for causing the majority of the accident, you will be able to recover damages to the comparative extent of their fault. Note that as the plaintiff, you have the burden of proof of convincing the judge or jury that your version of the events is true. Your attorney will do so by gathering evidence that proves the sequence of events causing the accident and that it was the defendant’s culpability. Similarly, the defendant’s insurance company will have to prove that their client was not liable and will do so by perhaps poking holes in your version of the events. If the defendant takes an affirmative defense approach, in which they try to prove that you were in fact partially at fault for the accident, they, too, will have the burden of meeting the preponderance of evidence standard, convincing the judge or jury of their version of the events.

Get in Touch with a Mercer County Personal Injury Attorney Today

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, our team of experienced personal injury attorneys represents clients across Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and the greater Mercer County area in all auto accident claims.

To schedule a consultation with a member of our firm today to discuss your accident and injury, please contact us online or through our Trenton office at 609.528.2596.

Why is Preserving Evidence Important in a Personal Injury Case?

Preserving Evidence in a Car Accident Case Can be Crucial for a Successful and Complete Recovery of a Personal Injury Claim

Why Is Preserving Evidence So Important In Your Personal Injury Case?In a personal injury lawsuit following a car accident in New Jersey, the injured party bears the burden of proving that they sustained damages and detailing what those damages are. The amount of evidence you can gather will often directly affect the success of your claim. The more information you obtain at the scene and preserve thereafter, the stronger your claim will become.

In a personal injury or wrongful death motor vehicle accident case, a victim or their family can be entitled to economic damages such as medical benefits, income benefits, and repairs. In addition, the victim may be entitled to compensation for non-economic damages, or “pain and suffering.” Before a victim receives compensation for their traumatic injuries, he or she must prove that the defendant was a negligent driver. In the case of a car accident case, the defendant may be the driver or the manufacturer of the vehicle. Records kept by the defendant often can help prove negligence (i.e., cellphone/text records of distracted drivers, truck driver log records in suspected fatigue driving cases, or maintenance records if a vehicle had defective auto parts). The law allows the victim access to these records in many cases; however, the victim must take legal steps to preserve the records and ensure they are not destroyed before they can be reviewed.

By hiring an attorney experienced with preserving evidence, they can send a letter of spoliation to try to prevent the other party from tampering with or destroying evidence (i.e., requesting the other party’s vehicle not be repaired until your lawyer and their investigators have a chance to photograph and document the condition of the vehicle).

At Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson our attorneys are admitted to practice in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and since 1972 we have helped numerous clients in gathering evidence and investigating accident cases and obtaining compensation for injuries sustained in automobile accidents throughout both states. Our experienced team of lawyers is dedicated to helping you obtain the compensation you need and deserve.

Contact us online or by telephone at (609) 528-2596 to arrange a consultation with an experienced personal injury & auto accident lawyer. You only have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. After the statute of limitations expires, you will no longer be able to sue to collect compensation for your injuries.

Your Cellphone is Key Tool to Preserving Evidence & Documenting the Scene

Your Cellphone is Key Tool to Preserving Evidence & Documenting the SceneSmartphones are capable of taking high-quality pictures & videos to document your accident in mere seconds of the accident. After using your phone to call the police and while you wait for them to arrive, take steps to help preserve the evidence. Photograph your injuries, all vehicles or bikes involved, the scene of the accident, the road conditions, weather conditions, debris on the road, nearby traffic signals, any skid marks, and license plates. If the accident occurred at night, if possible, go back the next day and take pictures of the scene in daylight.

It would also be useful to photograph any damaged areas inside of your car, including the dashboard, broken seats, etc. If any personal items such as cell phones, eyeglasses, or laptop computers are damaged, also take photos of those items.

Witnesses: If you do not have a pen or something to write with, perhaps snap a picture of witnesses and their drivers’ IDs. In addition, ask bystanders if they took any pictures on their own, and if so, ask them to send you the photos.

If you have questions about other steps you need to take after being injured in a car accident, call an experienced personal injury attorney to help guide you through the process. They can be your advocate in dealing with insurance companies and can advise you on the most effective approach to getting the compensation you deserve.

The Ongoing Process to Preserve Evidence After Leaving an Accident Scene

After leaving the accident scene, the duty to collect evidence continues. You or your loved one should keep excellent records of all expenses incurred relating to the accident (i.e., auto shop bills, vehicle rentals, additional medical expenses, and more). Be sure to create a separate file to collect all medical records, bills, MRIs, X-rays, prescriptions, treatment, slings, crutches, wheelchairs, and other related paperwork.

Not only do you want records of all hospital visits immediately following the accident, but also you need records of each return visit for every injury, lost wages, and those aspects you believe contribute to either your pain of suffering and/or loss of your daily quality of life or work.

Written Diary or Video Journal

Keeping detailed records and a written, photographic, or video journal of the accident and its aftermath, can be one of the most useful things you can do. Recording how you feel the day of the accident and any later feelings and pictures taken at regular intervals of your healing process can show the progress of your injuries or the impact the accident has had on your daily life.

Contact Our Mercer County NJ Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers TodayIf you are shaken up after the accident, certain memories might surface in the days afterward, so write those memories down as well. As your injuries heal, keep notes on how you are feeling. Maintain a daily log in which you note what activities you could not do or had to modify, because of your injuries. Note what parts of your body are hurting and describe it. If it is the same issue daily, you can just write a note that you are feeling the same as the day before.

Although your legal counsel will need to be able to request additional medical records and details about your case should you pursue a lawsuit, having these documents on hand can make the filing your claim and investigation process easier.

Contact Our Mercer County NJ Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers Today

If you or someone close to you has suffered a car accident injury, as the result of the reckless or negligent actions of another, at The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson we are here to help you pursue compensation for your losses.

Contact us online or by telephone or through our Trenton, NJ office at (609) 528-2596 to arrange a free and confidential consultation with an experienced auto accident injury lawyer.