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Who May Be Liable for an Accident During Winter Weather?


Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Dec 18, 2020 in Car Accidents

winter weather accident liabilityEvery year, 24 percent of weather-related accidents happen due to snow, slush or ice on pavements, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Another 15 percent occur during sleet or snowfall.

A few factors may need to be reviewed to determine liability for an accident caused by ice, sleet or snow. Generally, you may have legal options for pursuing compensation if you were injured as the result of someone else’s negligence.

Call the South Bend car accident lawyers at our firm to discuss your options in a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. We do not charge you anything up front or while we work to build your case.

Dangerous Road Conditions Caused by Winter Weather

As temperatures drop in the winter months, you are more likely to encounter hazardous driving conditions, such as:

  • Fog
  • Sleet
  • Black ice
  • High winds
  • Snowstorms
  • And more

Winter weather conditions may reduce visibility or make roads slippery. That is why it is important to use extra caution if you need to be out on the roads. Icy roads cause thousands of accidents every year, leading to thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths.

Causes of Winter Weather Crashes

Driver negligence is one of the most common causes of car accidents, in winter weather or any other weather conditions. Some of the other factors that cause a winter auto accident include:

  • Unplowed roads
  • Unseen potholes
  • Poor road maintenance
  • Unsalted roads
  • Ice flying off vehicles
  • Snow accumulation

What Factors into Liability for an Accident in Cold Weather Conditions?

When an accident happens, insurance companies hold people, not weather, responsible for the property damage and injuries that may occur. Keep in mind that you still have a responsibility to keep your passengers and other drivers on the road as safe as possible when you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, even if the weather may make it more difficult to do so.

Although liability for an accident is generally assigned to careless or negligent drivers, cities, municipalities, or other agencies responsible for roadway maintenance may be found liable, or partially liable, for an accident.

Some of the things that insurance companies look for when determining liability for a cold-weather accident may include:

  • Speeding
  • Suddenly braking
  • Distracted driving
  • Improper passing
  • Following too closely
  • Driving under the influence

Every accident is different, so there may be other things that factor into liability. If you are involved in an accident while driving on black ice, in a snowstorm or another winter weather event, be sure to contact an experienced attorney to discuss your legal options.

How to Avoid an Accident While Driving in Winter Weather

It is generally a good idea to avoid driving in these kinds of conditions, but there are times when it may be unavoidable. If you do find yourself behind the wheel in dangerous winter weather conditions you should try to:

  • Slow down
  • Focus on the road
  • Pay attention to posted warning signs
  • Use your headlights and turn signals when appropriate

It is particularly important to be a defensive driver in winter weather because it may be more difficult to make a quick stop or maneuver to avoid trouble. You should not assume other drivers will be as cautious as they should be.

You should also remember the best practices when dealing with certain types of weather or road conditions. For example, if you feel your vehicle sliding while driving over a bridge, you may be driving on black ice and experts say not to use your brakes. Instead, it is best to keep your foot off the brake and steer into the skid until your tires regain traction.

Make sure to watch out for wildlife as well – December is mating season for deer. Collisions with wild animals can not only cause damage to your vehicle, but also serious injury.

Hurt in an Accident? Call an Experienced Attorney

You never know when an accident may occur, which is why our intake specialists are available 24/7 to help get you into contact with one of our experienced attorneys.

With more than a century of combined experience, our attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak are prepared to pursue the compensation you need to help you move forward.

Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we do not charge you anything while we work on your case and we do not get paid until you receive compensation.

Call us today at (844) 678-1800 to schedule your free consultation.