One of the most common causes of car accidents during the winter months is the presence of snow or black ice on the pavement. While snow and black ice may only cause a minor accident where a single vehicle spins out, they can also lead to devastating crashes that leave vehicle occupants with life-altering injuries. When a car accident is caused by black ice or snow, who can be held liable for the injuries and losses suffered by those in the accident?
Where Do Snow and Black Ice Accidents Commonly Occur?
While snow obviously comes from wintertime precipitation, black ice can form on roadways under a wider variety of conditions. Black ice refers to a condition where water or moisture freezes in a thin layer on the pavement. Because this layer of ice is so thin, it is virtually transparent and therefore hard to distinguish on the road surface.
Places and situations where black ice is most likely to form include:
- Bridges and overpasses, as elevated road surfaces cool down much more quickly than pavement on solid ground. For that reason, state and local governments usually place warning signs ahead of bridges and overpasses warning motorists of the increased risk of black ice.
- Shadowed roadways, as it can take longer for black ice to melt when the roadway is not exposed to direct sunlight during the day.
- Cold rain, especially when nighttime temperatures fall below freezing.
Snow and black ice car accidents can also frequently occur on steep hills and banked curves, where cars are more likely to lose traction due to snow and ice.
Fault for Snow/Black Ice Accidents
If you are injured in a snow/ice car accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries from your own insurance company through the personal injury protection coverage in your own auto policy.
When a snow/ice car accident occurs because a driver is not operating their vehicle in a manner that is safe for slippery conditions (such as by speeding, tailgating, or having worn or inappropriate tires), that driver can be held liable for injuries suffered by others in the accident.
Finally, a state or municipal government might have liability for a car accident caused by snow and ice when the roadway was negligently designed in such a way that snow and ice buildup were far more likely on the roadway. State and local governments might also be liable for negligent failure to salt or otherwise treat roadways subject to snow and ice buildup.
Tips for Avoiding Snow and Ice-Related Car Accidents
Helpful safety tips that drivers should keep in mind to stay safe when snow and black ice are on the roads include:
- Avoid speeding – the faster you are traveling, the more likely you are to lose control of your vehicle if you hit a patch of snow or black ice.
- Increase your following distance – cars take longer to slow down in slippery road conditions
- Use headlights, even during daylight hours, especially when driving on shaded roads as headlights can help you spot patches of ice
- Ensure your tires have sufficient treads and make sure your car is equipped with all-season tires, or preferably, winter tires.
- Avoid using cruise control, as a loss of traction on one or more wheels can cause your car to quickly careen out of control if using cruise control.
Contact a Perth Amboy Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at CourtLaw represent clients injured because of car accidents in Hoboken, New Brunswick, Perth Amboy, East Orange, and throughout New Jersey. Call (732) 442-5900 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 163 Market St., Perth Amboy, NJ 08861, as well as offices in New Brunswick, Roselle, East Orange, Jersey City, Elizabeth, Linden, Newark, Paterson, South Amboy, Trenton.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.