Q: I was paying attention to the road but something just jumped out at me causing an accident. Am I liable for the accident?
A: An important part of the general duty of all drivers of cars, trucks, and motorcycles is to pay attention. This requirement goes beyond paying attention to your own car's speed and the traffic lights. All drivers have a duty to look around them and notice the other folks on the road.
This requirement means is you've got to be alert and on the lookout for others. Think of this rule as the opposite of MYOB - "Mind your own business." When driving, you are required to be looking around, noticing what is on the road and around you, particularly what other drivers do.
It goes without saying, you can't get distracted by talking on the phone, texting, selecting songs on your iPod, or changing radio stations. If you are driving while really sleepy or feeling sick, you cannot stay alert and may miss things. You also can't just space out while you are driving because if something in plain sight and you missed it, that is your mistake, and you can be held liable.