What Is the Duty of Care NJ Drivers Owe Others on the Road?
When you drive, you are responsible for the safety of others. This legal responsibility is called a duty of care, and it extends to you, your passengers and others sharing the road.
At Lynch Law, PC, we are very familiar with the legal duty of care and what it means every time you get behind the wheel. In the article below, we explain more about this duty and what it means to New Jersey drivers. We also discuss how those who breach this duty could be held liable in a crash.
Injured by a negligent New Jersey driver? If so, you may be eligible to recover compensation for things like medical costs, ambulance transportation, lost wages and more. Find out what legal options you may have by contacting our law offices today. Our auto accident attorneys in New Jersey have extensive experience and are ready to fight for full and fair compensation on your behalf.
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How Does New Jersey Define the Standard of Care?
In New Jersey, the standard of care is defined as “reasonable care under the circumstances.” But how do you know what actions are considered reasonable, and how can you ensure you are meeting this standard?
NJ law set this standard to help create a safer travel environment for everyone. In practical terms, this law requires drivers to take reasonable steps to prevent harm to others when they are driving.
Some examples of taking reasonable steps to maintain safety as a driver include:
- Yielding the right of way – Make sure you know and understand New Jersey’s right of way laws and how they apply to you as a driver.
- Using your turn signal – Proper signaling is one of the easiest ways to prevent traffic accidents. Simply by flicking a turn signal, you are making other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists aware of your intentions to change lanes, make turns or exit the road.
- Adhering to posted speed limits – Even if you prefer to travel in the “fast lane” on highways, excessive speeding is not permitted. It is important to remember that speeding could cause a crash that could injure others as well as yourself. Additionally, if your speeding contributes to a crash, you can be held liable for the damages.
- Taking bad weather into consideration – Paying attention to the weather and how it impacts safety and how you drive is a big one. Drivers need to slow down in bad weather, put more distance between their vehicles and others around them and be even more focused on the road.
- Not driving while impaired – Driving drunk is not the only type of impairment that can lead to a crash. Driving drowsy or while fatigued, driving under the influence of drugs and other substances and even driving while hungover can all increase the risk of a crash.
What Are Some of the Ways Drivers Violate the Duty of Care They Owe?
There are a couple of general ways that drivers violate their duty of care. One way is by committing an act of negligence and the other way is by failing to act. We provide some common examples of both below.
Acts of Negligence That Constitute a Breached Duty of Care
Drivers violate the duty of care when they commit acts of negligence, such as:
- Exceeding the posted speed limits
- Driving while fatigued
- Getting behind the wheel while impaired by drugs, alcohol or other substances
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Following other vehicles too closely (tailgating)
- Eating, drinking, grooming or texting while driving
Drivers also violate the duty of care they owe when they fail to take certain actions, such as:
- Not using their turn signal to alert other drivers when changing lanes or turning
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Neglecting to maintain their vehicles and keep them in safe operating condition
- Ignoring vehicle recalls, especially “do not drive” recalls, which are especially dangerous
- Failing to follow the posted speed limit in school or construction zones
- Not slowing down or stopping for pedestrians in the designated crossing area
- Failing to use headlights as mandated by law
Whether acting in negligence or failing to take certain actions, drivers put themselves and others at risk of being injured in a serious crash.
What If Drivers Breach Their Duty of Care and It Causes a Crash?
If drivers breach their duty of care and it leads to a crash, they can be held liable for the damages. Say for example, that another driver ran a red light and hit your car, causing you to suffer multiple injuries. In this scenario, that individual would likely be held liable for your medical costs, lost wages if you could not work, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Although the other driver may be at fault for your crash and subsequently your injuries, however, you will still need to prove your claim. The burden of proof in car crash claims is always on the victim..
How Can You Prove a Driver Violated the Duty of Care?
To prove your claim, you will first need to establish the other driver:
- Owed you a duty of care
- Breached that duty in some way
- Establish how that breach led to a crash and subsequently your injuries
- You suffered damages as a result of this crash, such as medical costs, property damages, and lost wages. In other words, but for the driver’s negligence and resulting crash, your injuries and other damages would not have occurred.
Why Hire an Attorney To Manage Your Claim?
Proving a driver violated the duty of care he or she owed you is not something you should attempt on your own. Insurance companies know they can get by paying injured victims significantly less than if they are represented by a lawyer.
In short, working with an experienced attorney significantly increases your chances of a successful claim because they:
- Have extensive experience and knowledge of state laws
- Handle car crash cases every day
- Know how to deal with insurance companies that are trying to deny or devalue your claim.
- Understand how to gather evidence and build a robust case on your behalf
- Know how to calculate the full value of your claim to help ensure you recover the maximum possible compensation for your damages
Injured car crash victims typically recover far more when working with an attorney than if they try to pursue a claim on their own.
Contact Our Trusted Law Firm to Discuss Your Situation
At Lynch Law Firm, PC, we are prepared to help you. We have been advocating for injured victims for over four decades and have a proven history of success.
If you have been injured due to another driver’s negligence, we encourage you to seek legal help right away. There are deadlines in New Jersey and it takes time to build a solid case.
Your initial consultation is completely free, and if you choose our firm to represent you, there are also no upfront costs or fees to pay. We only get paid if you get paid.
You have questions? We have answers. Call: (800) 518-0508 24/7.