may be held to a lesser standard of care if defendant encountered
extenuating circumstances or was operating under some disability. For
example, when faced with an emergency, mere errors in judgment do not
constitute negligence on the part of the defendant who acts reasonably under
the circumstances. (driver entitled to emergency doctrine charge since jury
could find that incident was too brief and unexpected to allow time to blow
horn or to make intelligent choice of best way to avoid or minimize
impending collision when child ran out from behind an ice cream truck).
A greater standard of care may apply if special extenuating circumstances existed or if plaintiff exhibited a disability. If plaintiff has a disability, or is too young to hold accountable at an adult standard, and defendant is or should have been aware of plaintiff's condition, the defendant may be held to a higher standard of care.
For example, a motorist must take extra precautions when driving in the vicinity
of a children's school. Likewise, a motorist proceeding within the posted speed
limits can be driving too fast under the circumstances if traffic, weather, road
or other conditions dictate a lower speed.
A person faced with an emergency and who acts without opportunity to
consider the alternatives is not negligent if (he, she) acts as a reasonably
prudent person would act in the same emergency, even if it later appears that
(he, she) did not make the safest choice or exercise the best judgment. A
mistake in judgment or wrong choice of action is not negligence if the person is
required to act quickly because of danger. This rule applies where a person is
faced with a sudden condition, which could not have been reasonably anticipated,
provided that the person did not cause or contribute to the emergency by (his,
her) own negligence