When a car crash happens in the winter, who is liable? Many people assume that there is no fault in a winter weather collision since snow, ice, sleet, or limited visibility were contributing factors in the accident. However, it is essential to know that winter car crashes often result from another party’s negligence or as a result of another issue for which someone may be liable. Indeed, although snow and ice might be underlying causes of an accident, collisions that occur during wintertime inclement weather frequently have a proximate cause that is linked to another party’s liability. Our New York car accident lawyers can give you more information, and we can assist you with a claim if you or someone you love sustained injuries in a winter motor vehicle collision.
Winter Weather May Contribute to Crashes, But Negligent Drivers May Still Be Liable
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), snow and ice are extremely dangerous for driving, and they contribute to a significant number of crashes every year. Indeed, about 900 people sustain fatal injuries in wintry car crashes each year, while about 76,000 people are injured in automobile accidents that occur during snow or sleet. The FHWA reports that light snow results in the need for reduced speeds of anywhere from 3% to 13%, while heavy snow should reduce speeds by 5% to 40%, given that visibility is also reduced.
Given the hazards of these conditions, motorists on the road owe other motorists a duty of care that involves slowing down and driving safely based on the weather. To be clear, driving at or just below the posted speed limit when snow or sleet is falling, or when the roads are icy, is not reasonable under the circumstances. Rather, motorists must drive at a speed that is reasonably safe based on the conditions, which may mean traveling at a speed significantly lower than the speed limit posted. In addition, driving reasonably safely means living a greater following distance to avoid a rear-end crash in the event of icy roads or due to low visibility.
Liability Based on Vehicle Defects and Road Hazards
In addition to another motorist’s liability based on negligence, other parties also may be liable for a winter auto collision. Most often, when another motorist is not at fault, a winter crash will result from a vehicle defect or a serious road hazard. In those situations, the designer or manufacturer of the defective part, or the property owner, respectively, could be liable for injuries.
Contact Our New York Auto Accident Lawyers
If you or someone you love gets hurt in a winter car crash, it is important to discuss the specific details of your case with an experienced New York auto accident attorney. Even though wintry weather may have been one factor in the collision, it is possible that another party is liable for your injuries. Whether you need assistance filing a claim against a negligent motorist or another at-fault party, our firm can assist you. We can evaluate your case today and discuss your options with you. Contact Leitner Varughese, PLLC, for more information.