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Car Accident in Winter Storm - Do You Have a Claim?

Over 1,000 auto accidents were reported while Hurricane Jonas unleashed its wrath on the Commonwealth, according to ABC News.

Severe winter weather can affect vehicle performance and driver visibility resulting in serious car accidents. When these wrecks are the result of driver carelessness or negligence, the victims may be able to pursue financial restitution for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering by filing a personal injury claim.

Here's an example of negligent behavior by a driver during winter weather:

Does Bad Weather Influence Your Potential Case?

Possibly. In a bad winter storm, many drivers (or their insurance companies) try and point to the inclement weather as the proximate cause of the crash. This means you, as the plaintiff, have the burden of proving that the driver’s careless actions were the proximate cause of the crash, not the weather. This can be established by eye witness testimony, skid marks, whether a traffic citation was issued at the scene of the crash, etc.

Proving negligence is essential as the injured party since you must prove your case by a “preponderance of the evidence.” This is why you should consult with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the wreck. Let a lawyer build your case and advocate to get the compensation you deserve. You should focus on getting back to 100 percent.

The Duty of Care and Showing the Other Driver Breached That Duty

In order to hold someone legally responsible for losses caused by an accident, it is necessary to establish that they were acting negligently in some way. Generally, a driver has a duty to maintain control of their vehicle at all times. The failure to maintain this control indicates that they were negligent (see VA Code § 46.2-853).

Sometimes, however, outside forces such as high winds or falling debris cause a vehicle to lose control completely independent of any driver error. These forces could be used as a basis as a defense to your personal injury lawsuit. It is important to note, however, that drivers are required to use an appropriate level of care considering the weather in which they are driving. For example, although traveling according to the speed limit is legal, it may not be reasonable during a heavy snow storm (e.g., Winter Storm Jonas).

Other ways in which a driver may negligently cause an accident in bad weather include:

  • Failing to use windshield wipers
  • Improper vehicle maintenance
  • Driving on worn tires
  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Drowsy driving

These are just some of the ways in which a driver may negligently cause a serious accident in poor weather, and a Virginia personal injury attorney can help you determine whether and against whom you may have a claim. 

Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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