Snow Storm Car Accidents: Who’s At Fault in Snow-Related Car Accidents
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Car accidents in snow often happen in Michigan due to the state’s severe winter storms that create treacherous driving conditions. The state had 22,105 snow-storm car accidents in 2022, leading to several serious injuries and 34 fatalities.
Determining fault in these accidents can be complex. Our car accident attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can assess liability based on weather conditions and driver actions to help you receive compensation for your injuries.
Common Causes of Snow-Storm Car Accidents
Michigan, known for its harsh winters, frequently experiences snowstorms that contribute to a high number of weather-related car accidents. Several factors can lead to these accidents, including:
- Reduced visibility. Snowstorms often reduce road visibility, making it challenging for drivers to see other vehicles, traffic signals, and road signs. This can result in collisions, especially at intersections and two-lane roads.
- Slippery roads. Accumulated snow and ice on the road surface can make driving treacherous. Vehicles may slide or lose traction, leading to accidents, particularly when drivers are speeding or don’t have winter tires with proper tread.
- Braking distance. Snow and ice reduce a vehicle’s braking effectiveness, increasing the distance required to come to a stop. Drivers who fail to adjust their driving habits to leave at least 600 feet may rear-end other vehicles.
- Multi-vehicle pileups. In heavy snowstorms, multi-vehicle accidents, often referred to as pileups, can happen. These accidents typically result from one driver’s negligent actions, causing multiple vehicles to collide in one location.
- Poor road maintenance. Snowplows and road crews help maintain safe road conditions during snowstorms. However, poor road maintenance can contribute to accidents, especially when roads are not cleared promptly or adequately.
When Might Another Driver Be At Fault for a Snow-Related Collision?
One common question in a car accident in snow is whether another driver can be at fault. While adverse weather conditions can make accidents more likely, drivers are still expected to exercise caution and adapt their driving behavior.
The most common scenarios where another driver is at fault include:
- Following too closely. If a driver fails to maintain a safe following distance and rear-ends another vehicle on icy or snow-covered roads, they may be liable for the accident. Drivers should adjust their speed and following distance to account for reduced braking capabilities.
- Failure to yield the right of way. During snowstorms, drivers must be extra vigilant when yielding the right of way at intersections and in merging situations. Failing to yield when required can result in accidents where the at-fault driver can be held responsible.
- Reckless driving. Engaging in reckless behavior, such as speeding or aggressive driving in adverse weather conditions, can lead to accidents. Drivers who disregard weather conditions and drive recklessly can be at fault.
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving is dangerous in any weather but becomes particularly hazardous in snowy conditions. Drivers who cause accidents due to distractions, such as texting or using a phone, may be considered at fault.
- Not maintaining their vehicle. Drivers must ensure their vehicle’s lights, brakes, and tires are in good working order and remove all snow and ice from their vehicle. Neglecting these responsibilities can lead to accidents, for which the driver could be liable.
Who Else Could Be Liable?
In addition to other drivers, several parties involved in snow-related car accidents may be liable, depending on the situation. These include:
- Road crews. Municipalities and government agencies are responsible for maintaining safe road conditions during snowstorms. They may be liable for accidents if they fail to adequately clear and treat the roads, leading to hazardous conditions.
- Entities responsible for signage. Proper road signage is crucial during inclement weather. If road signs indicating dangerous conditions or speed limits are missing or unclear, the entity responsible for signage may share liability.
- Vehicle manufacturers. Vehicle defects or malfunctioning safety features can contribute to accidents in snowy conditions. For instance, the manufacturer may be held accountable if a vehicle’s anti-lock brake system fails or a tire blows out due to negligent construction.
What Compensation is Available for a Weather-Related Crash?
If you’re involved in a car accident in the snow, our lawyers at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can help you receive compensation. We’ll explore the following options, providing guidance on how to maximize your settlement:
- Personal injury protection (PIP). In Michigan, PIP coverage is mandatory and provides benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs, regardless of fault. PIP covers you and your passengers, no matter who caused the accident.
- Third-party claims. If another driver is at fault for the accident, you may pursue a claim against their liability insurance for additional compensation. This can cover damages beyond what PIP provides, such as pain and suffering, property damage, and future medical expenses.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, your insurance policy may cover your injuries and damages up to the limits of your underinsured motorists’ policy.
- Lawsuits. Filing a lawsuit may be necessary to recover damages. This typically applies when the at-fault party’s insurer refuses to settle for a fair amount or multiple parties are involved. We can represent you in court and help you seek a fair damage award from a jury.
How Our Attorneys Can Help after a Car Accident in Snow
At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., our experienced auto collision attorneys are ready to protect your rights and help you through the insurance claims process after a snow-involved crash.
We can do the following to help you receive a fair payout to cover your losses from the accident:
- Determine liability in snow conditions. Our attorneys will investigate your crash to identify who is at fault. We’ll gather evidence such as tire tracks, surveillance footage, and weather reports to demonstrate how icy roads or poor visibility contributed to the crash.
We can also analyze driver behavior against winter driving norms to establish negligence or fault.
- Maximize compensation for snow-related damages. We use detailed strategies to ensure you receive the highest possible compensation for damages from a snow-related accident. Our team will assess and document all related costs, including vehicle repairs, medical expenses, and lost wages due to the accident.
We also consider unique snow-related factors, such as additional damage from ice and the long-term impact of injuries sustained in these conditions. Our team, including partner attorney and registered nurse Eileen Kroll, can work to build a strong claim for comprehensive coverage.
- Negotiate with insurers. Our attorneys skillfully negotiate with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement for snow-related accidents. We use our experience in snow accident claims to challenge low offers and argue for higher compensation. This includes presenting detailed evidence and expert testimony to support the claim’s value.
Hire a Lawyer Who Will Fight for You
If you’ve been involved in a snow-related car accident, take action and seek the legal assistance you deserve from Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. We have a track record of successfully handling Michigan car accident cases and will use our experience to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Contact our legal team today for a free consultation. We’ll determine who is liable for your injuries and help you file a claim for a payout after a car accident in the snow.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.