Who Is Liable When Inclement Weather Causes a Car Accident?
Southerners are often made fun of for the way we “shut down” at the first sight of a snowflake. While we don’t get heavy snow very often in Mississippi, a few times a year our roadways are covered with thin transparent ice, known as “black ice.” Black ice is difficult to see and even more difficult to drive on. Rather than driving on freshly plowed streets or a fluffy layer of snow like motorists in other parts of the country, Mississippians must brave this slick, invisible ice if they wish to leave their house during inclement weather.
Weather conditions like snow, ice, rain, fog, and wind reduce visibility and impair drivers’ ability to maintain control of their vehicles. In Mississippi, about a quarter of motor vehicle accidents are weather-related. This figure is much higher when ice is on the road. So how do we determine liability for a car accident when bad weather is to blame?
Determining Fault in a Winter Weather Accident
Drivers are expected to act reasonably, including taking extra precautions in inclement weather. Depending on the circumstances, acting reasonably may include driving at a reduced speed, pulling over if visibility is impaired, and ensuring your vehicle is in good condition to handle the weather. When an accident happens, the police officer, insurance companies, and the court will look at the road conditions and the actions of both drivers to determine fault.
When a driver loses control of his vehicle, he is considered at fault for any damage that results. On icy roads, a car may skid into oncoming traffic or collide into the back of another vehicle. In these cases, the insurance company will fault the driver that lost control. However, there are many circumstances in which two or more cars lose control and collide with each other. If this happens, the insurance company may decide each driver is responsible for the damage to his own vehicle, or assign comparative fault. For example, if both drivers lose control of their vehicles, but one driver was driving at a high rate of speed, the driver that was speeding may be held responsible for 75% of the total damages. Similarly, a pedestrian may be held partially responsible for an accident if he was jaywalking or in an otherwise unsafe area.
Personal Injury Claims Due to Weather Related Car Accidents
A person that is injured by another driver on icy roads may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. However, the injured person must be able to prove that the other driver acted negligently given the circumstances. Negligent behavior may include speeding, driving during blinding conditions, or failure to replace worn brakes or tires. The court may also find that you are partially at fault for your own injuries. For example, if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, the court may reduce your recovery by the degree to which you are at fault. A personal injury attorney can tell you if you have a potential claim. The law firm of Derek L. Hall, PC, The Heavy Hitter offers a free case review to car accident victims.
Jackson Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured in a car accident, there may be legal options available to you. Contact the experienced Jackson personal injury attorneys at the office of Derek L. Hall, PC, The Heavy Hitter to schedule a free initial consultation.