Winter in Connecticut can be brutal. Snow and ice can cause extremely hazardous driving conditions for even the safest of drivers. The Federal Highway Administration reports that 24% of weather-related accidents occur in snowy, slushy and icy conditions. Another 15% of weather-related accidents occur during periods of snowfall and sleet. Sadly the number of injuries and deaths each year due to these conditions number in the thousands.
It is often incorrectly thought that a driver cannot be held responsible in winter accidents, that the weather is the only fault, but that is not true. No matter what the season or weather condition ultimately the driver is responsible for how they operate their vehicle. Driving too fast for conditions, braking too hard, being distracted or impaired while driving all can add to the dangers of traveling on winter roads. Bad weather is often not a valid defense for a motor vehicle collision because nearly always if the driver exercises due care in every way commensurate with the road, weather and traffic conditions, the collision is preventable. If a driver’s failure to exercise due care is the cause of the collision, they can also be held responsible for the injuries, losses and damages, that were caused in the accident.
If you need to drive in the winter months, you should be prepared for the possible hazards by maintaining proper attention to the weather forecast and have your car maintained properly. For example, your tire treads and air pressure should be at safe levels. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific maintenance recommendations and for additional safety features that may also be installed in your vehicle.
Also, before you head out on the road you need to be sure to clear your windows and lights and surfaces are free of ice and snow cover, including the roof and side of your vehicle. Drivers are reminded to take a few moments for your car to “warm up” before driving in the winter as well.
While commuting in winter, drivers should take care to accelerate and decelerate slowly, not use cruise control, and increase the space you maintain between your vehicle and other vehicles on the roadway. In the case of your vehicle losing traction, you should steer in the direction of the skid.
For a full list of winter maintenance items visit the National Safely Counsel website.
A driver can be found negligent for disregarding many of these items previously mentioned.
Failure to clear the snow off of a vehicle before driving risks a portion of that snow to fly off the vehicle while in motion. This could result in the snow hitting the windshield of nearby vehicle, blocking their view and causing an accident.
Driving too fast for conditions, even if driving under the posted speed limit is considered negligent behavior in the case of an accident.
Improper maintenance, including faulty brakes or worn tires, is another way to be held liable for causing a collision. Also improper window wiper operation, defrosting and headlights or signal lights not functioning can also put you in a position of being negligent in a winter auto accident.
In some instances, the state government or the municipality that is responsible for the winter road maintenance can be found liable for an accident. There is a level of responsibility to clear and maintain the roads for safety. In CT we have what are known as defective highway statutes allowing suits against the State or the municipality, if the injured party proves that the sole proximate cause of the collision is due to the negligence of the State or municipality. This is a very high proof standard showing that the State of municipality is solely the cause of the accident, making it much harder to recover for the State or municipality’s negligence.
Some of these additional factors can include:
In an automobile accident with injuries you could be facing long term to permanent injuries, the inconvenience of the loss of transportation to and from your place of employment, as well as other medical and out of pocket costs. You have the right to be compensated for your time lost from work, pain and suffering. With the experienced team at Tindall Law Firm, LLC you can be sure that we will fight for the maximum compensation you are entitled to receive according to the current legal statutes.
We take personal injury cases very seriously and devote the time and resources necessary to bring your case to a successful resolution. As a lawyer with nearly 24 years of specialized experience in this field, Attorney Tavis Tindall understands the importance of working closely with clients from beginning to end. From car accidents to slip-and-fall accidents and spinal cord injuries, attorney Tindall and his staff provide quality service while maintaining the highest ethical standards.
For a free consultation with a Waterbury personal injury attorney, please call 203.755.0018 or contact us online. All cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. If we accept your case, you pay no fees or costs, unless we recover damages for you.