For drivers, winter weather can be a nightmare. Snow, sleet, and ice make the roads slippery and dangerous, often leading to car accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), approximately 900 people are killed, and 76,000 are injured in winter-related motor vehicle accidents.
But who is responsible for the damages caused by these accidents? Is it always the driver’s fault, or are there cases where another entity could be liable? Let’s take a closer look at liability in car accidents caused by winter weather.
Determining Fault in Winter Weather Accidents
While winter may bring opportunities for joyous occasions like spending time with family or enjoying the snow with your children, it can also bring with it extreme hazards when it comes to vehicle travel. Common causes of winter weather-related accidents include:
- Heavy Winds
- Limited visibility due to snowstorms
Each hazard impacts the potential of a car accident in its own way. For instance, ice is a major factor when it comes to reduced traction, making vehicles more prone to slipping and sliding. In contrast, limited visibility due to heavy snow can lead drivers to miss important cues, like stop signs or other vehicles.
When the Driver is At Fault
In most cases, the driver of the vehicle that caused an accident is liable for any damages that occur as a result of the accident. This means that the driver of the car that initiates the accident will usually be the one responsible for damages. At-fault drivers are usually involved in winter accidents due to the following:
- Driving at unsafe speeds
- Driving under the influence
- Failing to maintain a safe following distance
- Not clearing snow or ice from windshield or roof
Can a Municipality Be Responsible?
There may be certain scenarios, however, where a driver is not liable! If a municipality neglected to clear snow and ice from its roads after a snowstorm and that negligence resulted in an accident involving your vehicle, there’s a possibility that they may be responsible for the resulting damages. In such instances, you may be able to sue the municipality instead. Similarly, if your vehicle was damaged due to a sudden road hazard—such as a pothole or large piece of ice—that appeared due to inclement weather conditions, you may have a claim against them!
It is important to note that each case is unique and determining fault depends on numerous factors such as traffic laws violated during the incident (speeding or running red lights), vehicular defects (tire blowouts or brake failures), or other factors like distracted driving. Additionally, laws vary by state, and it is best to consult with an experienced attorney before attempting to pursue compensation for damages incurred in an accident involving winter weather conditions.
Car Accident Attorneys in Durham, NC
Winter can be a tricky time when it comes to driving and car accidents. Knowing who is liable in an accident involving winter weather conditions requires legal expertise that an experienced attorney can provide. If you have been involved in such an accident, contact the attorneys at Wallace Pierce Law for assistance. We are here to help you understand your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
Call us today at (919) 887-7892 or fill out our form online for more!