Operating a vehicle during treacherous New England winters can be extremely dangerous and put drivers in unexpected circumstances. According to the Federal Highway Administration, “each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement, and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet. Over 1,300 people are killed, and more than 116,800 people are injured annually in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement.” These deadly crashes can be caused by either road conditions, a reckless driver, or a combination of both.
Common Factors in Inclement Weather Crashes
- Lack of visibility
- Heavy snowfalls cause sudden whiteout conditions that take drivers by surprise when they cannot see their surroundings.
- Freezing rain & sleet
- A mix of rain and snow with dropping temperatures can quickly make driving conditions slippery. Pre-treatment on roads doesn’t always stick to dry roads; the rain then washes it away, making freezing rain extremely dangerous. On the other hand, sleet can sometimes look like packed snow, causing drivers to slide off the road unexpectedly.
- Black ice
- Black ice is a thin layer of ice that appears shiny or black on pavement, often making it invisible to drivers, especially at night. It forms when wet roads freeze as temperatures drop.
Who Is Liable for a Car Crash in Wintry Road Conditions?
Most winter car accidents occur when a motorist is negligent or driving recklessly on slippery roads. In Rhode Island, it is a driver’s duty of care to drive cautiously in adverse weather. Drivers must also maintain their tire tread and proper distance and drive slowly. Under Title 31, “No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.
In every event, speed shall be so controlled as necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.” If a vehicle hits another vehicle in wintry conditions, the driver at fault’s liability coverage should take care of damages or injuries. If the accident caused damages or injuries due to snow and ice, the party at fault may be proven to have been driving negligently or carelessly in winter conditions.
Mother nature is unfortunately not at fault for vehicle collisions. It’s best to stay home when roads are icy, but if you must leave home, drive cautiously. Every time a person chooses to drive in bad weather, they can be held responsible if they cause an accident.
What to Do If You Have Been Involved in a Winter Weather Car Accident
- Check yourself and your passengers for injuries
- Move to a safe area
- Turn on your hazard lights and call for help
- Collect vehicle, location, insurance, and driver information
- Document the accident with police information, photos, and witnesses
- Contact a lawyer
- Notify your insurance company and file a claim
Winter Car Crash Attorneys in RI
An experienced personal injury attorney is critical in pursuing a claim against the person or party that caused your injury. Not only is an attorney familiar with the law, but they can also help you with any legalities specific to your case. A lawyer is also a great resource for addressing questions about what types of compensation you may be eligible to receive and explaining how to approach your personal injury claim.
If bad weather contributed to your crash, consult with a skilled Rhode Island car accident attorney. Rob Levine & Associates is a top RI personal injury lawyer that will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Remember, there is no fee unless you win your case, and our dedicated team of lawyers and their supporting staff handle all the work for you so that you can focus on healing.