In Texas, we don’t regularly experience snowstorms or blizzards, but that doesn’t mean they are an impossibility – as recent winters have demonstrated. Car accidents due to snow happen, and when they do, many people are confused regarding who is responsible. Better understanding the basics can give you a better idea about how best to proceed if you’re injured by someone else’s negligence in a car accident due to snow. Regardless of the specifics, however, one of the most important steps you can take in such a situation is discussing your claim with an experienced Austin car crash lawyer.
What’s In This Guide
The Elements of Your Car Accident Claim
Car accident claims are based on negligence, and understanding the elements of car accident claims can help you better understand how the issue of liability is resolved in car accidents that are due to snow.
Duty of Care Owed
The first element of every traffic accident claim is that the party whom you deem to be responsible for the accident owed you a duty of care in the first place, which means that they had a responsibility to your safety. Establishing the duty of care is an easy one when it comes to car accidents because every motorist is responsible for following the rules of the road, driving in accordance with the condition of the road (including in response to the effects of inclement weather), and accommodating the safe passage of others on the road. When we get behind the wheel, we all owe everyone else on the road a considerable duty of care.
The next element of your car accident claim is that the party whom you deem to be responsible for the accident breached the duty of care that they owed you, meaning that they were negligent in some way and, as a result, failed to live up to their responsibility to your safety. When snow is falling, or there is snow on the road, motorists are required to take its dangerous effects into careful consideration and to proceed with caution, including slowing one’s speed to handle the slippery conditions more safely and predictably. Failure to do so can prove exceptionally dangerous.
The next element is that negligence on the part of the other driver was the direct cause of the injury-causing accident. For example, if the other driver failed to reduce their speed in response to the snow-packed road and spun into your lane as a result, their negligence was likely the direct cause of the ensuing accident.
The final element you must prove is that you suffered covered losses (or legal damages) as a result of the accident in question. Such damages can include all the following:
- Your medical expenses (both current and ongoing)
- Your lost income, which may include lost earning potential
- Your physical and psychological pain and suffering
Car Accidents Due to Snow
Car accidents due to snow are often the result of motorists who fail to adjust their driving to accommodate for the dangerous effects of snow on the roadway, an important facet of the duty of care we owe one another when we drive. The fact is that even a small amount of snow can render the road’s surface exceptionally slippery, and slowing one’s speed considerably is the only way to mitigate the danger to the extent possible effectively. The set speed limit only applies when driving conditions are ideal, and snow is – by no means – a part of this equation. Additionally, blowing snow can seriously reduce visibility, which also requires a reduction in speed. Finally, when a vehicle’s tires or brakes aren’t roadworthy, there is even more danger involved. Ultimately, motorists are responsible for proceeding with caution – in direct response to the risks they encounter (including snow) – and failure to do so can lead to serious accidents for which they bear liability.
The At-Fault Driver’s Response
The bottom line is that the insurance provider of the at-fault driver is going to do what it can to deny their liability in a car accident due to snow. A common example is claiming sudden emergency, which means that the motorist had no way of predicting the bad weather and, therefore, did not have the necessary time to engage in actions that will have provided a safer alternative. The elements necessary for a sudden emergency, however, are clear, including:
- The emergency condition arose suddenly.
- The emergency condition was unexpected.
- The emergency condition wasn’t caused by the driver’s own negligence or failure to act.
- Any negligence on the part of the defendant was a direct result of them not having the time necessary to engage in a safer alternative.
Regardless of how suddenly a snow story comes up, which admittedly can be nearly immediate, it can’t be described as being out of the realm of possibility. Further, there is a universally safe response to snow, which is slowing down, and every motorist should allow themselves the time and distance required to decrease their speed – as necessary for safety. In other words, the claim of a sudden emergency is unlikely to fly in terms of reducing the defendant’s liability.
Similarly, declaring an act of God or an unavoidable accident is unlikely to prevail unless the at-fault motorist can demonstrate that they took every necessary precaution, including slowing down to the extent possible.
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Discuss Your Claim with an Experienced Austin Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you are injured by another driver’s negligence in a snowstorm, the formidable Austin personal injury attorneys at The Patel Firm are committed to harnessing the full force of their impressive legal knowledge and experience in pursuit of your claim’s most favorable resolution. We’re here to help you, so please don’t wait to contact or call us at 361-400-2036 for more information today.