The winter season brings with it unique road hazards, as fog, wind, rain and traction problems can cause unsafe driving conditions.
Some may be surprised to learn that most weather-related winter car accidents are not caused by snow build-up on the roadways, but rather by unseen road conditions such as black ice. As noted by IcyRoadSafety.com, which evaluates news media reports, there were at least 458 deaths in the United States during the 2009-2010 winter season because of icy roads.
If you’re in an accident and sustain serious injuries and other damages, you may be able to file a claim to recover compensation for damages like medical bills. An important part of this process is establishing who was liable for the accident.
Who is responsible for black ice accidents?
When filing a claim against your insurance company, the adjuster will review all the facts of the case. He or she will look at the circumstances and determine what may have caused the accident in addition to the icy conditions. This may include another driver. The insurance company will also take the weather into consideration, but if you lost control and caused an accident because of black ice, you will be considered liable.
This may seem unfair, but the position of the insurance company is that drivers must be able to control their vehicle at all times. Often, an accident that happened because of snow, ice, or rain is attributed to a driver because he or she was ‘driving too fast for conditions.’ Drivers are expected to drive in accordance with road conditions and take any precautions necessary, even if this means slowing to a crawl or pulling off the road until conditions improve.
After the insurance company issues fault, you can appeal the decision, but you must provide clear reasoning that another party was at fault. For example, witnesses to the accident may recall seeing the other driver driving recklessly despite the weather conditions.
Avoiding Black Ice Accidents
The best way to reduce the risk of liability in a black ice accident is to take proper precautions to prevent one from happening in the first place. It is important to prepare your car for winter driving, especially if you live in a snowy location like Northeast Philly. Check windshield wipers and tires for signs of wear or snow buildup and carry chains in your vehicle. Make sure the car has enough windshield fluid to keep the windshield clear of snow, ice and rain. Fully defrost windows before driving.
In freezing conditions, try to avoid driving on bridges, steep hills and sharp curves. You should also slow down and maintain extra distance between you and the car in front of you in case you need to slow down suddenly. If the weather conditions are too bad, it is advisable to stay home and avoid driving altogether.
Contact a Lawyer
Not all black ice accidents are caused by careless drivers. Black ice can occur in the most unexpected places and surprise even the most experienced, careful driver. But if your accident is the result of another’s negligent driving behavior or you are having difficulty collecting from your insurance company, an attorney may be of assistance.
Cordisco & Saile LLC can provide consultation and legal representation to residents of Northeast Philly and surrounding areas who are involved in a winter car accident. Contact us at 215-642-2335 for a free consultation.