Longtime residents are accustomed to harsh, almost arctic-like conditions during parts of the winter months, while newcomers and visitors may be caught a little off guard by the ferocity of a sudden winter storm. Regardless of what group you are in, it’s a good idea to review some winter driving tips. Operating a vehicle is especially hazardous in southern Illinois, because the population is more spread out and there are more undivided highways.
Before you leave, send a brief text message to a friend or loved one, letting him or her know where you are going and basically what route you’ll take. Completely clear your windshields and windows of any snow and ice, because it’s both illegal and dangerous to drive when your vision is obscured. Finally, verify that your gas tank is at least half full and you have a few emergency supplies, like a blanket and maybe some water, on hand.
Once on the road, the best thing to do is slow down. Furthermore, since most vehicles have limited traction on slick surfaces, do not do two things at once, like brake and steer at the same time.
Most American tort law originally came from England, and the duty of reasonable care comes from Donoghue v. Stevenson, a 1932 negligence case in which a Scottish woman sued a beer bottler for damages because she found a dead snail at the bottom of a ginger beer bottle. Before this case, no one owed a legal duty to anyone else outside of a contractual relationship. But society had almost completely changed in the preceding twenty or thirty years, with many more people living in large cities and mass-produced automobiles travelling on all-weather roads. So, Lord Atkin set forth the “neighbor principle,” writing that “You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbor.”
Courts have rather consistently held that the duty of care does not vary based on the tortfeasor’s (negligent actor’s) mental competency or education level. However, the duty may vary depending on environmental conditions. For example, in snowy or icy conditions, the duty of reasonable care usually requires motorists to operate well below the speed limit, follow other vehicles at a greater distance, and take other necessary precautions.
Many people believe that they should call their insurance companies immediately after a crash, but that may be a mistake. Insurance company telephone adjusters are trained to subtly elicit statements from the callers that can be used against them later, and these calls are nearly always recorded “for quality control purposes.”
Similarly, many people believe that first responders will handle all the evidence-collection chores, such as taking pictures and interviewing witnesses. These things are certainly on the to-do list, but these items follow things like giving emergency care to injured victims and securing the scene. If first responders have any time left, and that may or may not be the case, they collect evidence.
On a related note, the police report usually assigned fault, but it is usually not dispositive. That’s because, in many cases, the reporting officer only hears one side of the story, since the victim is either injured or dead.
All these things mean that victims should call lawyers before they call their insurance companies, at least in most cases. An attorney can get to work quickly to collect evidence for a future negligence case and ensure that victims get the medical treatment they need, both emergency care and later physical rehabilitation.
For prompt assistance with a negligence case twelve months a year, contact an aggressive Chicago personal injury lawyer from Arami Law Office, because you have a limited amount of time to act.
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