Black ice or snow on the roads can result in an increase in the number of car accidents. Snow-packed road conditions or black ice on the highways, city streets, secondary roads, and side streets can be dangerous even for experienced drivers.
While most accidents in cold weather conditions may only cause a minor scratch or a dent to the car, some others can result in grievous injury or death. But who is at fault in an accident when it is snowing outside? This is a critical issue to address if you are involved in such an accident where you or another person suffered injuries.
Determining fault in accidents due to black ice or snow
Accidents that occur as a result of black ice or snow usually involve several vehicles and result in devastating injuries. This can lead to numerous investigations and personal injury claims.
Parties that have suffered injuries in the accident would want to know whether their insurance will cover damages. You may be in a position to recover full or partial financial damages from your insurance provider if a vehicle slid on ice or snow and ended up hitting you. You may also be able to benefit from liability coverage of the other driver.
However, it is important to understand that you can be held liable for causing injuries to another driver – even if the accident occurs during a snowstorm, or because of slick and icy road conditions. According to the law, weather cannot be used as an excuse to protect you from personal injury liability. All drivers have a duty to drive appropriately and safely in accordance with the inclement weather conditions.
Bad weather may not be a sufficient reasonable defense
It is the responsibility of every driver to act with sufficient care appropriate to the road conditions. In the event a driver causes an accident after losing control of the vehicle (like a rear-end collision), the fact that weather conditions were bad or the road was slick and icy may not be a strong defense.
The at-fault driver may still be held accountable for the damages caused to vehicles as well as personal injury caused to others because of the collision. However, in exceptional cases, you may have a defense if the ice and snow conditions can be proved to be unforeseen or unexpected.
If the weather conditions are well-known, any reasonably careful motorist would know to maintain extra care and caution if the roads are in a bad condition or it is snowing outside. Responsible drivers would travel at slower speeds and maintain greater distance from the car in front.
A reasonable driver would also know whether their vehicle is equipped for safe driving in harsh winter conditions (such as snow tires). A reasonable motorist would determine whether they have the right kind of driving experience and training to safely navigate bad weather conditions.
Insurance companies might make some type of allowances for road conditions when a weather-related accident claim needs to be filed. However, the primary responsibility still remains with the driver to take necessary precautions for winter driving.
Proving a third party was at fault
While black ice and snow are unpreventable in most cases, there are certain situations when another entity could have taken the necessary steps to mitigate the risks. For instance, the municipality or another agency could be held accountable if the roadway was not maintained or designed properly for icy road conditions.
Poor maintenance can often result in water accumulation on the road, which quickly freezes and poses danger to drivers. In addition, the maintenance company might be responsible for salting and clearing the roads. They could be determined to be at fault if black ice occurred because of their neglect of duty, which eventually caused an accident.
For a snow-related car accident injury, seek legal advice from Shapiro & Appleton
The attorneys at Shapiro & Appleton are committed to helping road accident victims get the justice they deserve. We will explore all possible legal avenues and create a strong legal strategy to help you obtain your rightful compensation. Give us a call today at 800-752-0042 to speak to a personal injury attorney.