Bad Weather Car Accidents
In the Chicago area, people are used to long periods of cold winter weather. As a result, drivers can encounter hazardous road conditions--caused by snow, freezing rain, or ice--from October all the way through April. Unfortunately, car accidents are much more likely to occur during these winter months when road conditions are not ideal. Most of us have figured out how to navigate winter weather without causing an accident, but sometimes, despite all our precautions, we can end up being struck by another vehicle that has lost control. When that happens, the driver responsible may feel that the collision was caused by the bad weather, but insurance companies need to determine liability regardless of bad weather. So how is fault determined in a weather-related car accident?Who is at Fault in a Car Accident Involving Snow and Ice?
When snow and ice are involved in a car accident, the police and the insurance companies will look at all the circumstances that may have contributed to the crash, including wintry weather and hazardous road conditions. However, just because a patch of ice causes a car to slide through an intersection and collide with another vehicle, does not mean that the driver of that car is not responsible. Far from it. Even when bad weather is a contributing factor in an accident, the driver who loses control and hits another vehicle is usually found to be liable. This is because the driver is expected to take preventive actions to avoid an accident. In inclement weather, it is the driver’s duty to slow down, keep a safe distance between his car and other vehicles, and drive in a manner that will allow him to keep control of his car no matter what the weather or road conditions. That is why drivers usually drive so slowly during the first snows of the winter. They are testing their car’s reaction to winter road conditions and being extra cautious to avoid an accident.What Factors Contribute to Liability?
In every car accident, the insurance company must determine fault regardless of the weather. To do so, they investigate every factor involved: the driver’s speed, evasive maneuvers, distance from other vehicles, vehicle maintenance, brake usage, and whether the inclement weather was known or expected. They will get eyewitness accounts, record the drivers’ accounts of what occurred and who hit who, and look at evidence such as skid marks, position of the cars, and the location of vehicle damage to make their decision. As car accident attorneys, we will do our own investigation and collect this evidence independently to get a complete picture of the accident from our client’s perspective. This is critical if we want to refute statements made by the other driver and prove that he or she was responsible. If the other driver is found to have acted negligently and failed to use proper precautions in dangerous weather conditions, he or she will be found liable for damages. Some examples of driver negligence would include:
- Driving too fast for road conditions
- Failing to follow at a safe distance behind other cars
- Taking a turn too fast on slippery pavement
- Failing to use headlights in weather conditions with poor visibility
- Hydroplaning through a stop sign
- Driving impaired, distracted, or drowsy
- Failing to obey road signs and traffic signals
The driver could also be negligent because of poor vehicle maintenance such as:
- Worn brakes failing to stop the car in time
- Malfunctioning headlights or tail lights
- Missing or ineffective windshield wipers causing poor visibility
- Worn tires that cannot grip the road.
If an accident occurs in bad weather and the insurance company can prove that the driver who caused the accident was negligent, then the outcome of the case will be similar to that of an accident that occurs in good weather conditions. If the driver responsible for an accident was using precautions and lost control anyway, the law still holds that driver accountable because he or she chose to drive in inclement weather and should have been able to drive in a way that allowed them to maintain control of the car.Get Help from an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
Proving negligence in weather related accidents can be complicated; you need an experienced car accident attorney working for you. The car accident lawyers at The Collins Law Firm know how to prove negligence in these kinds of cases to ensure our clients are fairly compensated for their injuries. If you have been hit by another car in a weather-related accident and have been injured as a result, call us for a free evaluation of your case. Do not wait; the sooner we can begin gathering the evidence needed to prove the other driver was at fault, the better. Call us at (630) 527-1595 or fill out our contact form to protect your rights.