Dangers of Winter Car Driving
January 8, 2023
During the winter months, Pennsylvania gets a great deal of cold weather and freezing precipitation. Although there is much to enjoy about the winter season, winter weather is the cause of many car accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 24 percent of all weather-related accidents are caused by snow, ice, or slush. When someone is injured in a car accident, finding the at-fault driver is essential in ensuring the injured party obtains the compensation they deserve.
According to state law, drivers are responsible for an accident they cause, even when snow or icy roads contribute to the problem. In most cases of winter weather-related car accidents, drivers who are at-fault can be held liable because of actions they could have taken to prevent the crash. Common winter elements that contribute to dangerous road conditions include snowstorms, sleet, heavy winds, fog, and black ice.
Each time a motorist heads out on the road, they have a legal responsibility to take reasonable care to avoid a car accident. Drivers are expected to take the necessary precautions to drive safely in the existing weather conditions and are considered to have the ability to decide whether or not to drive in poor weather.
There are multiple factors that attorneys consider in determining liability in weather-related car accidents. The most common factors taken into consideration in these types of cases include whether the:
- Inclement weather was a known event rather than an unexpected occurrence.
- Driver was traveling at a reasonable speed considering the weather conditions.
- Driver was following too closely behind other vehicles in bad weather conditions.
- Driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident.
- Driver was distracted while operating their vehicle.
- Driver failed to properly maintain their vehicle.
- Driver displayed reckless or careless driving behaviors.
- Driver operated vehicle while drowsy or fatigued.
- Driver operated vehicle without headlights turned on.
- Driver operated vehicle without working tail lights, brake lights, or signals.
- Driver had proper windshield wipers and fluid.
There are very rare cases when a driver may be able to use an “Act of God” defense to argue lack of liability. In these instances, the weather event must have been unusual or extremely unexpected, leaving the driver with no way to avoid a car accident.
In most cases, the at-fault driver can be held liable since there are usually actions the driver could have been taken to prevent the crash. Gathering as much evidence as possible after a car accident can help you and your attorney with future claims and legal proceedings.
Evidence that can be used to prove that a driver was at fault in a winter car accident include:
- Eyewitness accounts: After experiencing a winter car crash, you should collect as many eyewitness statements as possible if you are physically able. Do your best to get the contact information of all possible eyewitness to the accident in case your attorney needs to contact them down the road.
- Pictures: If you are able, use your smartphone to take pictures of the scene of the accident from various angles and of every vehicle involved. Take pictures of any damage sustained, the road conditions at the time of the crash, and any skid marks on the road that may help to prove fault.
- Cellphone records: Cellphone records can prove that a negligent and distracted driver was talking on the phone or texting at the time of the accident. Talking on a phone using a hands-free device is also considered to be dangerous and distracting.
- Toxicology results: When police suspect that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they typically test the person’s breath, urine, or blood. Toxicology results that show the driver was under the influence at the time of the accident can support your claim and car accident case.
- Black box data: Black box data tracks the braking and traveling speed of a vehicle at all times. While not all vehicles are equipped with black boxes, most commercial vehicles are required to have them and record this kind of data. Black box data is extremely useful in pinpointing fault after a serious car crash.
How Can I Avoid a Winter Car Accident?
The best way to avoid a winter car accident is to stay off the road during dangerous weather conditions. However, if you must drive, it is important to prepare for your own safety as well as the safety of others. Make sure your car is properly maintained, and check your brakes, battery, lights, wipers, and fluids on a regular basis in the winter.
Depending on where you live, tires with deeper treads may be necessary to keep you safe and functional on the roads in the winter. Drivers of all of vehicles should check the pressure levels of their tires more often in the winter, as they typically lower along with the outside temperatures. It is particularly important to check all safety features and important components of your vehicle before taking long road trips in the winter months.
It is essential to have an emergency kit stored in your car all year round, but especially important in the wintertime. Be sure to keep a fully stocked emergency kit in each one of your family’s vehicles that includes first aid supplies, a flashlight, an extra cellphone charger, bottled water, dry food, and blankets.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a winter car accident, an experienced lawyer can help guide you through what can be a complicated process. Working with a skilled car accident lawyer can help ensure your case is handled smoothly and efficiently.
We Can Help You With Your Winter-Related Accident Case
Galfand Berger LLP has a reputation for securing large awards for our clients through skilled negotiation, litigation, or successful trial verdicts. Some of our past cases:
- $4.5 million settlement for car accident-related spinal injury. Our client suffered a severe spinal injury after being hit head on in a devastating car crash. Our legal team pursued claims against the at-fault driver as well as the auto manufacturer for both the defective seat belt and crash-worthiness of the vehicle. We recovered $4.5 million on behalf of our client.
- $590,000 settlement for client injured in black ice accident. Our client was injured in a car crash while riding as a passenger in a vehicle owned by a friend’s family business on an icy Bucks County roadway. The case involved multiple parties and presented several issues of cause and liability, including consumption of alcohol, black ice arguably caused by property owner’s failure to install a drain at the base of a driveway, and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s liability in the design of the roadway. We were able to settle the matter for $590,000 on behalf of our client.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Fight for Clients Injured in Winter Car Accidents
Our experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP are here to help if you have been injured in a weather-related car accident. We know that facing medical bills, damage to your car, and filing claims while trying to get back on your feet can be overwhelming. Our dedicated legal team will handle all the details of your case. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or contact us online. With offices in Philadelphia, Reading, Bethlehem, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.