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Old Man Winter Is Still At Work

Treacherous roads and a negligent driver combined to create yet another fatal car crash on a New York highway.
A 33-year-old Webster man, whose name was not released, was on Atlantic Avenue in Penfield when he lost control of his vehicle on the snow-covered road. He veered outside his lane and collided with 56-year-old Nadine Putzig, of Ontario, N.Y. First responders rushed her to a nearby hospital with serious injuries; she was subsequently pronounced dead.
The other driver was cited for failure to maintain a single lane.
Duty in a Negligence Case
Fog, rain, the setting sun, and any other elements that create poor traction, poor visibility, or other poor conditions are never excuses for negligent drivers. In fact, the opposite is true: operators have additional responsibilities in these cases. That is because the duty of reasonable care is not a fixed concept, since driving carefully on a clear summer day and driving carefully in a snowstorm are two very different things.
The idea that everyday people had everyday legal duties was absolutely unheard of when the English House of Lords decided Vaughan v. Menlove. That case involved a large haystack situated right against the plaintiff’s cottage. Then, as now, these haystacks were very dangerous, because the smallest spark could ignite the whole thing. SO, most people took fire precautions. But not the defendant, who brushed off neighbor’s fire warnings by saying that “he would chance it.” The haystack did eventually catch fire and consume the plaintiff’s cottage.
The judges were divided. Some wanted to excuse the defendant’s actions, because he was legitimately looking out for himself. Fire prevention mechanisms, like a chimney, cost money, after all. There was also disagreement as to the applicable standard. Some claimed that the defendant “was bound to proceed with such reasonable caution as a prudent man would have exercised under such circumstances.”
In the end, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, since the defendant “had repeated warnings of what was likely to occur, and the whole calamity was occasioned by his procrastination.” But it would be another hundred years before this principle was broadly applied to other cases.
If you or a loved one was hurt or killed due to someone else’s negligence, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Proner & Proner for a free consultation. Our main office is conveniently located across from Grand Central Station.

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