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Home > Blog > Auto Accident > Can Drivers Be Sued After Crashes on Icy Roads?
by: NPHM | December 8, 2021

Can Drivers Be Sued After Crashes on Icy Roads?

Inclement weather is one of the most common causes of auto accidents, especially in a state like Ohio where winters can be long, harsh, and full of ice and snow. When ice forms on roads, it makes them incredibly slick. Many vehicles aren’t designed to drive on slick terrain, and even those that are equipped with winter tires and 4WD capabilities can lose traction when driving over black ice.

There’s no question that crashes are more likely to occur when ice has formed on roads, but who is liable for those crashes? Can a driver be considered at fault and sued if they crash into another vehicle after hitting a patch of ice and losing control? The answer to this question depends on a few different factors.

Drivers CAN Be Sued for Winter Weather Crashes If They Were Negligent

Around 90% of all auto accidents are caused by driver error. That means that at least one driver made a mistake that contributed to or caused the crash. And in many cases, those errors are preventable and are the result of driving recklessly or nonchalantly and not paying attention to what’s going on nearby.

So, even though ice can increase stopping distance, drivers can still be held liable if they rear-end other vehicles, for example. Rear-end collisions can almost always be avoided by increasing following distance, and when they occur, even in inclement weather, it’s usually a sign that the rear-ending driver was driving negligently.

Not Adapting to Road Conditions Can Also Be Considered Negligence

Drivers can cause crashes during winter weather that don’t involve obvious dangerous or negligent behaviors like speeding or following too closely, but they can still be held liable because they didn’t adapt to the weather conditions. When roads are icy, drivers should know that they need to slow down, give themselves plenty of room to brake, and take turns more cautiously than normal.

When drivers don’t adapt to poor road conditions and continue to drive as normal, they put themselves and others at risk—especially when others have slowed down significantly. Simply put, a heavily iced rural road with a normal speed limit of 45 MPH should never be navigated at 45 MPH.

Not All Ice-Related Crashes Are Due to Negligence

Although many crashes, even in the worst of winter weather, are due to negligence, not all of them are. Sometimes, drivers may hit patches of ice that are difficult to see or anticipate—especially when the rest of the road is clear. That can cause them to lose control of their vehicles, even though they were obeying all traffic laws and driving safely and responsibly.

Another example involves crashes that occur because drivers attempt to avoid other collisions. This is common in winter weather scenarios. A driver may see that they’re about to be struck by an out-of-control vehicle, so they swerve or quickly change lanes, causing them to collide with another vehicle. In this case, the at-fault driver may be the one who necessitated the sudden maneuver.

Our Legal Team Can Hold Negligent Drivers Responsible After Icy Crashes

Every auto accident should be treated on an individual basis, especially when it comes to determining liability and whether a lawsuit can be filed. This is especially true when inclement weather plays a role. Although many ice-related crashes can be prevented with cautious driving, not all can. Sometimes, even cautious drivers crash for reasons outside their control.

At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our Ohio car accident lawyers can investigate your crash and determine whether the driver who hit you was negligent, regardless of weather and road conditions. Then, we’ll work hard to get you maximum compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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