Risks and Dangers Due to Winter Weather
Motor vehicle crash due to bad driving in ice is serious. While the winter months are often associated with picturesque views, especially from the indoors, the situation can be a completely different story when driving through these winter landscapes. Black ice, heavy snow and rain, strong winds, and fog can contribute to dangerous winter car accidents that can forever impact a person’s life.
That is why it is important to understand the dangers of driving in these elements for those exposed to these winter weather conditions every year. For these reasons, in the below post, we will go over the different types of hazardous conditions you should watch out for when the cold months hit. We will also discuss the steps you should take if you suffered harm in a winter-weather car accident and how an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney can help get compensation for the losses you sustained.
The Dangers of Driving in Winter Weather
Over 5,891,000 motor vehicle accidents occur every year in the United States, and nearly 1,235,000 are weather-related. In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration, every year, around 24 percent of weather-related motor vehicle accidents occur on slushy, snowy, or icy pavement, and 15 percent occur during sleet or snowfall.
Over 1,300 individuals are killed in these accidents yearly, and more than 116,800 people are harmed in motor vehicle crashes because of snow, slush, or ice on the roads. In addition, approximately 900 people are killed, and around 76,000 individuals are harmed in motor vehicle accidents due to snowfall or sleet.
Hazardous Conditions to Watch Out For During the Winter Months
Unfortunately, when it comes to the winter months, numerous issues can impact drivers’ safety on the road. While most people believe snowy and ice roads are their main concerns, other weather-related problems can also lead to tragic motor vehicle accidents.
Take, for instance, the following hazardous conditions:
Dangerous Snowy and Icy Roads
Snow and ice are known to decrease motor vehicle maneuverability and pavement friction, which can cause slower speeds, reduced road capacity, and increased accident risk.
Generally, average speeds on snowy or slushy roads decrease by 30 to 40 percent, while freeway speeds can reduce up to 13 percent in light snow and up to 40 percent in heavy snow.
In addition, as the snow falls, roads and lanes can also become obstructed by the snow, reducing road capacity, increasing delays, and leading to unsafe driving maneuvers. Plus, icy roads can also lead to black ice, a type of ice that is hard for drivers to see and can cause catastrophic accidents since it can result in cars sliding and spilling out on the roads unexpectedly.
Outside of snowy and icy roads, wet roads can also be a massive problem for motor vehicles during winter. Rain can cause wet pavement, which reduces maneuverability and vehicle traction. It can also cause a reduced visibility distance, impacting how motorists travel on the roads. These wet conditions can also increase crash risk since breaking can take longer, and the faster motorists drive, the longer it will take for them to stop.
Almost 75 percent of weather-related motor vehicle crashes occur on wet pavement, and 47 percent happen during rainfall. Due to these conditions, nearly 5,700 people are killed, and 544,7000 individuals are harmed yearly in crashes on wet pavement.
Another major issue during the winter months is motorists having to drive in darkness. As the days become shorter, motorists are forced to spend more time driving in the dark, making it challenging to see hazards on the road. Additionally, glare from other automobiles on the road can make it hard for motorists to see what is in front of them.
Motor Vehicle Defects
Motor vehicle defects are another considerable risk that motor vehicle drivers face during winter. As temperatures dip, it is not uncommon for automobiles to experience flat tires, engine issues, and dead batteries, which can lead to devastating and tragic car crashes.
In addition, windshield wipers can freeze to the windshield, or the blades can tear when turned on, leading to broken wipers, which can prevent drivers from seeing the roadway when it is sleeting, snowing, or raining.
Finally, when salt from the roads gets inside a motor vehicle engine, it can corrode the metal, causing significant issues that can impact the motor vehicle and lead to debilitating car crashes.
Inability to See Because of Poor Weather Conditions
Sleet, snow, rain, and other winter conditions can reduce motorists’ ability to see as they operate their vehicles. However, when drivers cannot see in front of them or the roads properly, it can increase their risk of crashing into another car, stationary object, or people on the roads.
Exterior Lighting Issues Due to Snow and Ice
Motor vehicles can collect snow and ice when they are exposed to the elements in the winter. This snow can cover the whole vehicle, including the exterior lights. However, when these lights are hidden, drivers may not be able to see in dark conditions, which can prevent them from avoiding hazardous conditions and decrease the time they have to break.
These hidden lights can also prevent other motor vehicles from seeing what other drivers in front of them are doing, such as breaking, which can cause dangerous motor vehicle collisions.
What to Do Following a Winter Weather Motor Vehicle Accident
While taking action after a winter-weather motor vehicle accident may not be a priority, your actions after this collision can affect your health, safety, and legal rights. That is why following this type of accident, you should consider doing the following:
Seek Help From the Authorities
Following any motor vehicle accident, you should call 911 immediately and report what happened. The officials called to the scene can quickly provide the medical help you need, investigate the crash, and document what happened in a police report.
If you decide to pursue a legal claim after this collision, this police report can help your attorney prepare a strong legal case and go after the financial damages you deserve.
Get Examined by a Health Care Professional
After a motor vehicle crash, adrenaline levels are high, which makes it harder to discern what injuries you may have suffered after an accident. Consequently, you may not even know you suffered a traumatic brain injury, internal organ damage, or another significant personal injury.
Following this accident, you should get to a medical care provider and get examined. These doctors can ensure you get the medical help you need and prepare a medical report that can detail the severity of your injuries and provide a link between the motor vehicle accident and the trauma you suffered.
Get Information From Others
If you can, check on the other drivers involved in the collision and gather critical information, such as their names, phone numbers, email addresses, driver’s license numbers, vehicle registration information, and insurance information. Additionally, if witnesses saw the incident, get their contact information. These individuals can offer your attorney further valuable details about the incident and provide testimony to help collaborate your legal claim.
Yet, make sure you do not say too much as you exchange this information. For example, avoid making definitive statements regarding what happened, taking the blame for the crash, or apologizing for what occurred. These comments can end up hurting your case and impacting the amount of money you can receive.
Look for Evidence
Outside of getting eyewitness information, also try to use your phone to get pictures of the accident scene, including the injuries involved, damage to your car, the weather conditions at the time of the crash, traffic signals near the area, and anything else that can help demonstrate what happened.
However, do not panic if you cannot obtain all this evidence or photos. After you hire an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney, these legal professionals can work on gathering all this evidence for you.
Present the Evidence to a Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney
When you meet with a car accident attorney for the first time, bring all the evidence you have with you, including:
- The police and medical reports
- Bills related to the accident and your injuries
- Pictures and videos you have from the accident
- Correspondence you had with the other parties or the insurance company
These attorneys can use this documentation to create a solid legal case on your behalf and go after the maximum monetary damages you deserve.
Determining Liability for a Weather-Related Crash
Just because a car crash happened in bad weather does not mean that another driver is not liable for the incident and your losses and injuries. If the other driver was operating their vehicles recklessly, negligently, or carelessly causing an accident, they could still be held accountable for the collision, even in poor driving conditions.
The only issue in determining liability for a weather-related crash is that proving fault may be more challenging when bad weather is involved. That is why following this type of accident, consider containing an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. These legal professionals can figure out who caused your accident, review your legal options, and discuss how you can go after the financial relief you deserve.
Monetary Relief You Can Pursue After a Weather-Related Crash
If your motor vehicle accident resulted from another person’s wrongful actions, you might be able to pursue certain types of compensation.
Generally, these financial damages include payment for:
- Medical expenses (hospitalization, doctor visits, medications, surgeries, ambulance rides, other types of treatments)
- Ongoing medical treatments
- Lost wages, reduced earning capacity, lost business opportunities
- Property damage costs
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Limb loss
However, because these damages include both hard-to-prove and easily tangible losses, to determine which of these financial damages may apply to your case, consider contacting a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident lawyer. These attorneys can go over your accident with you in detail, determine the full extent of your losses, and help you go after all the monetary damages you deserve.
Contact an Experienced Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney Today and Find Out Your Legal Options Following a Winter-Weather Motor Vehicle Accident
If you or a family member sustained serious injuries due to a motor vehicle accident that happened in winter weather conditions, you might have legal remedies that you can pursue. Yet, to determine which legal options are available in your situation, consider going over the accident with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney.
Once retained, these legal professionals can thoroughly review the details of what happened, answer your questions and concerns, and determine your next legal steps.
They can also:
- Handle the whole legal process for you, including investigating the accident and gathering the evidence required to prove fault and damages.
- Deal with the other parties involved, handle the settlement negotiations, and go after a reasonable settlement offer.
- Bring in experts to help corroborate your legal claim, including accident reconstructionists specialists.
- Ensure that legal claims are filed before time runs out to file a case.
- Take your case to trial if the other party is unwilling to get you the money you need, and go after maximum compensation.
Do not wait any longer. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free case consultation and find out how a lawyer can help you with your legal claim.