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Winter Car Crashes: Can You Blame the Weather?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

If you get into a winter crash, can you blame the weather to avoid liability?

Meeting challenging winter conditions on the road takes skill, experience and attentiveness. Unfortunately, each winter many drivers come up short, causing thousands of automobile accidents on the road. Winter car accidents often involve snow, ice or slush, or dense fog.

But when you get into a crash during bad weather, will you face liability? Here's a general overview of what drivers need to know:

Bad Weather Won't Excuse Negligence

Generally speaking, all drivers have a legal responsibility to drive safely given the road conditions. Most winter car accidents are preventable when drivers practice safe winter driving habits and take a number of special precautions such as driving below the speed limit, leaving extra space, and outfitting your car for winter weather. The golden rule for winter is "defensive driving."

But there is a steep learning curve as drivers reacclimatize themselves to winter driving during the first few storms of the season. Drivers can potentially face liability for negligence if, for example, they:

  • Fail to adjust their driving to weather conditions,
  • Fail to service a car for winter driving, or
  • Are unreasonably overconfident in vehicle safety features like four-wheel drive.

What to Do in a Winter Weather Crash

Even when you are as prepared as possible and as safe a driver as you can be, you may still find yourself in a car crash during a bout of winter weather.

If this happens, don't exit the protection of your car until it's safe to do so. Follow the standard accident protocol, if possible, of exchanging driver, registration, and insurance information, as well as reporting the accident when significant property damage or injury occurs. It may also be a good idea to take pictures of the accident scene to help illustrate the driving conditions at the time of your crash.

Finally, consider contacting a car accident attorney to explore your legal rights and remedies. Your attorney can go over potential liability issues and means of recovery for property damage and injuries suffered from the accident.

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