Winter weather can cause car accidents in two main ways:
- Snow, ice, and slush can make roads more slippery, which can cause issues with braking and maintaining control of one’s vehicle.
- Precipitation and fog can cause low visibility, which can make it difficult for drivers to see the road and other cars nearby.
This article will go into more detail about the dangers winter weather can bring when drivers have to travel in these conditions.
Drivers Need To Take Certain Precautions During the Winter
Drivers in Columbus, Ohio, may be fully aware of the hazards that can come with the annual snowfall. Still, winter weather can be a dangerous obstacle for even the most seasoned drivers.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), nearly 6 million motor vehicle crashes occur each year in the United States, and about 21% of those crashes are related to poor weather conditions.
Many of the ways winter weather can cause car accidents have to do with driver error rather than the actual environmental hazards. People who have never driven through snow, ice, or slush might not be aware of the additional precautions they need to take in these conditions. For example, some things you must consider when driving through winter weather include:
- The road might be more slippery: Any type of precipitation can make the roads more slippery, including rain, snow, ice, and slush. When there is precipitation, drivers must add more stopping distance in case their cars cannot get much traction on the road. Drivers should also slow down so that they have more time to stop their vehicles should they need to suddenly.
- The road might be harder to see: Precipitation and fog can cause low visibility for many drivers. It might be difficult to see lanes, nearby traffic, or approaching intersections and turns. Drivers should turn on their headlights to see better and slow down until visibility improves.
- Drivers need to prepare their vehicles before winter: Many drivers prepare for the winter by changing their tires to snow tires or putting on chains. However, there are other maintenance concerns drivers must check as the cold season comes, such as whether their headlights, taillights, windshield wipers, and defrosters work.
- Drivers should stay on main roadways: Some drivers may want to avoid being on the road with other traffic and opt to drive on side roads instead of main highways. However, side roads are not always salted as regularly as main roadways and could be more hazardous when snow or ice is present.
Winter Weather Causes Fatal Accidents Every Year
The National Weather Service (NWS) states that more than 5,000 road users are killed because of poor weather conditions each year. If you lost a loved one in a car accident due to winter weather conditions, you might be eligible to file a wrongful death claim or car accident lawsuit if you are the decedent’s personal representative.
If another party caused or contributed to your loved one’s accident, you might file a lawsuit against them for their negligence. Another party may be held liable if:
- They did not have their headlights on during low visibility conditions on icy roads.
- They did not brake in time before hitting your loved one due to improper tires, not giving enough stopping distance, speeding, or some other reckless behavior that led to a fatal crash.
- They were intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.
Other reasons not listed here might also qualify for a lawsuit. You can discuss these details with your lawyer.
The decedent’s personal representative generally must file their lawsuit within two years of the decedent’s death, according to Ohio Revised Statutes (ORC) §2125.02. With their lawsuit, they may pursue compensation for funeral and burial expenses, the decedent’s final medical expenses, and varying non-economic damages. A law firm representative can discuss what kinds of damages you might be entitled to receive in more detail.
What To Do After a Car Accident Caused by Winter Conditions
Whether your accident occurred because of heavy snow or icy pavement, there are certain actions you can take to protect your legal case. For example:
- Visit a doctor right away: If you visit a doctor shortly after your weather-related crash, then it may be less likely the at-fault party’s team will try to undervalue your case. Visiting the hospital can help us link your injuries to the accident and prove your injuries were severe. We can also use medical bills and your doctor’s statements as proof of your damages.
- Avoid speaking with the insurance company: You do not need to speak with insurers after inclement weather causes your car accident. The insurance company may try to contact you and ask for a recorded statement, but you can politely decline. Anything you say can be used out of context, so allow our attorneys to handle communications for you.
- Keep any evidence you have: Our team will need to prove that you suffered damages because of the winter road conditions. To help you seek fair compensation, we can use evidence such as photos and videos of the accident, bills you have collected, and witness statements. If you have not collected any evidence, our team will do it for you.
The Fitch Law Firm LLC Wants To Help You With Your Case
If you are feeling left out in the cold after your cold weather car accident, just know that you do not have to go through this battle alone. The Fitch Law Firm LLC handles multiple types of car accidents for clients like you and is always willing to help people fight for the financial compensation they need. If you lost a loved one or were injured and suffered financial losses after an accident that occurred during the winter months, you might be able to file a claim or lawsuit to get the money you need to recover from those losses.
You can talk more about your winter accident with a team member at our law firm by calling us today. The first consultation is free.
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