All motorists have a duty to see what there is to be seen and to exercise ordinary care under the circumstances in the use and operation of his motor vehicle. This duty extends to all individuals in or around the roadway, including other drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. If a motorist causes a car accident, he may have breached this duty and he may be liable for any harm he caused as a result of this breach under a theory of negligence.
This duty to see what there is to be seen is becomes more important in certain circumstances. One such circumstance is on a curve, where the roadway is bending one way or another—sometimes sharply—which becomes a dangerous road. This is because visibility can be severely limited on a curve, particularly at night or during a rain or snow storm. In addition, the sound of the motor vehicle may also be harder to hear to alert others of an oncoming vehicle. These factors not only make curves more dangerous for drivers, but also for pedestrians, bicyclists, or individuals trying to exit a driveway on a curve. Further, the danger is elevated in a wooded area because a motorist has to contend with deer and other animals which may attempt cross the roadway.
New York common law (judge made law) has responded to this problem by finding that motorists owe an added duty of ordinary care to others on curves. Where a motorist who sees a curve ahead beyond which he cannot see around it, he has a duty to slow his speed so as to prevent a car accident. Thus, the exercise of ordinary care on a curve, particularly a sharp curve, is to drive the motor vehicle at a speed less than that at which motor vehicles are normally driven on straight stretches in the same general area.
Where a driver fails to lower his speed on a curve and causes an accident on a curve due to skidding, crossing the center line, or running off the road, it has been held by New York courts that such conduct may constitute negligence. This is particularly true where the curve is located at the bottom of a hill or where there are ample warning signs of the impending curve. Further, this is true where signs warn of the exact danger which occurs, such as a “hidden driveway” sign and the motorist navigating the curve fails to slow down for the possibility of a driver exiting the hidden driveway.
The attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle motor vehicle accident cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County. Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents. Please contact us today to receive a free case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.