Some drivers may be surprised to learn they can be held liable for a crash on an icy road. They may feel that, because of the road conditions, they could not avoid the accident and should not be at fault. However, drivers need to understand they are still responsible for safe driving and take proper steps to avoid causing harm to others, even in icy, winter weather.
If you are injured in an icy road crash caused by another driver, you may be able to seek compensation from that at-fault party’s insurance policy. We understand you may have a lot of questions about how to recover compensation for your damages in this situation. This is why we recommend seeking legal help as soon after a car crash as possible.
Our car accident lawyers in Harrisburg have extensive experience representing injured victims and are prepared to discuss your legal options. Your initial consultation is completely free, and there are no upfront costs if we represent you.
Call Schmidt Kramer for your FREE case review. (717) 727-1403
Why Can Drivers Be Held Liable for Crashes on Icy Roads?
Drivers have a duty to consider both the weather and road conditions and how these things may affect their ability to drive safely. Those who continue to operate their vehicles without considering these factors can be held liable if a crash occurs.
Regardless of the weather, most car crashes are the result of negligent driving. In wet, icy or winter weather, negligent driving behaviors simply make a collision more likely.
These are just a few of the countless examples of negligent driving:
- Following another car too closely
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while fatigued
- Running through a red light or stop sign
- Violating another driver’s right of way
- And more
What Types of Driver Negligence May Cause Winter Crashes?
Driver negligence is responsible for most car crashes, including under icy conditions. Most collisions can be prevented by taking the proper precautions. Here are a few ways driver negligence may cause a crash in winter or on icy roads.
Drivers Have a Duty to Consider the Weather
Driving on an icy road is more dangerous than driving on dry asphalt, yet many people continue to drive as if the roads were clear and dry. In wintry weather, this is considered reckless driving behavior.
For example, the driver at fault for your icy weather crash might not be lying about the car not stopping in time, even though he or she applied the brake. However, the real reason that driver might not have been able to stop is that he or she was following your vehicle too closely or driving too fast. Even in dry weather, that type of reckless driving behavior increases the risk of a crash. The icy road conditions only make a collision even more likely.
Drivers Have a Duty to Consider Road Conditions
When roads are snow or ice-covered, it is often best to drive below the speed limit. It is also critical that the drivers do not get distracted by other things, such as phone conversations, eating or texting. This could cause them to apply the brakes too late or too hard for road conditions. If there is black ice under the tires, your vehicle could spin out of control. Even if you do not lose control of your vehicle, it would be harder for the tires to gain traction and slow it down.
Drivers Owe a Duty to Take Greater Precautions During Bad Weather
An at-fault driver may say he or she was not following you that closely. However, in bad weather, you should leave even more space than usual between your car and the car you are following. Failing to take this reasonable precaution could be considered negligence.
Other reasonable steps to take while driving on icy roads include accelerating slowly and turning cautiously. Accelerating or turning too quickly could cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles.
Drivers Need to Maintain Their Vehicles and Prepare Them for Winter Driving
Another form of negligence that could come up after a crash on an icy road is the failure to maintain a vehicle. Maybe the at-fault driver had old tires on his or her vehicle. Worn tires like these will not be able to grip the road properly, particularly if there is ice on the road. The failure of the driver to replace the worn tires on his or her vehicle would be negligence. If this negligence can be directly linked to the crash, the driver could be held liable for damages.
Drivers Need to Remain Alert to Potential Road Hazards
Sometimes a crash occurs because one driver sees another lose control and swerves to avoid a crash. Unfortunately, when a driver swerves, it could cause him or her to crash into another vehicle. In wintry weather, other vehicles could become involved in the crash, resulting in a chain collision. The driver who swerved and caused the initial impact may be found liable. Swerving on an icy road could be considered negligence, even though the maneuver was done to avoid a crash.
What About Crashes on Black Ice?
Black ice is not really black, but it is over the road, so it blends in with the road and looks black. That is what makes black ice harder to see.
Fault for these collisions could be difficult to assign because black ice may be unexpected. It is very difficult to see black ice because the road looks the same.
However, black ice is known to accumulate in certain areas, such as bridges and overpasses. As a driver, it is your duty to be aware of when and where black ice may occur.
If your attorney can prove the at-fault driver knew or should have known about black ice, but did not take precautions, he or she may be found at fault. The driver in that situation cannot blame black ice because he or she should have accounted for it when operating his or her vehicle.
Where Black Ice Often Accumulates
As a driver, you are expected to know the places where black ice is much more likely to develop. For example, elevated areas are colder, and temperatures in these areas can drop more quickly. That is why many bridges and overpasses have signs warning drivers about black ice.
Black ice may also accumulate in shadowy areas, such as roads passing under an overpass. The sun cannot reach these areas, so temperatures there drop more quickly, causing any accumulated water to freeze. The shadows also make black ice harder to see.
If you are driving a vehicle that has four-wheel drive, you may think you can maintain control in any winter weather situation. However, you should still take proper precautions when driving in winter weather or over black ice.
How Can You Prevent a Crash in Icy Road Conditions?
The best steps a driver can take to avoid a crash in icy road conditions are fairly straightforward and include:
- Preparing your vehicle for winter: Get full winter maintenance done on your car so you are fully prepared. Preparations should include tire, brake and fluid maintenance. Additionally, drivers should keep their windows and mirrors clean and streak-free.
- Taking extra caution on icy roads: For example, drive more slowly and allow more distance from the car in front of you. Additionally, use your headlights to help improve your ability to see icy patches on the road, even in the daytime.
- Getting familiar with how to avoid losing control of your vehicle: For example, if your vehicle begins to slide, turn the wheel in the direction of the skid and avoid using the accelerator or brake. If your vehicle has all-wheel drive, lightly tap the brakes while trying to turn out of a slide. If you have rear-wheel drive, turn in the direction you want to go while lightly hitting the accelerator.
- Following all traffic laws: Regardless of the weather, drivers are required to follow all traffic laws to help avoid causing a crash or anyone harm.
Are You a Victim of an Icy Car Crash? Call Schmidt Kramer Today
One of the most important things to do after getting injured in a car crash is to find a qualified attorney to review your legal options. The legal process is complex, and the insurance company will be looking for a way to pay less than the value of your claim. This is just one reason why not having an attorney handle your case can be a bad idea.
At Schmidt Kramer, our attorneys have the resources and staff to represent you. We have a history of proven results, and there is no upfront cost. We have taken on many insurance companies and obtained millions in compensation for our clients.
Call us today to learn more: (717) 727-1403