Posted on behalf of Anderson Cummings on Jan 31, 2023 in Auto Accidents
Many drivers fail to consider the impact of snow, ice or freezing rain when they are out on the roads. Perhaps they feel their vehicles can handle whatever winter weather is out there. However, even drivers in SUVs may lose control on black ice and cause a crash.
The attorneys at Anderson Cummings discuss black ice on the roads and a driver’s potential for liability if bad weather leads to a traffic accident and causes others to get injured.
Did another driver cause your crash and resulting injuries by failing to take reasonable precautions during winter weather? If so, you may be eligible to seek considerable compensation for your damages.
Contact our law office to discuss your potential legal options. There is no cost or obligation to move forward or take legal action.
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What Causes Black Ice to Form?
Black ice forms when there is moisture or condensation in the air and the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Essentially, snow, hail and even a light drizzle of rain on the roads becomes a glazing of ice at that point. Snow that fell previously on the road and melted during the day can also refreeze and turn to ice.
The reason black ice is so dangerous is that it is extremely difficult to see for those driving at night or anytime when the roads are shadowy or light is not optimum. It is also worth mentioning that black ice forms more quickly in certain areas.
Drivers should be especially alert to the possibility of black ice forming on bridges, overpasses and the roads underneath an overpass when temperatures drop. The reason for this is that these conditions allow cold air to pass over and under these roadways, so the moisture freezes more quickly in these areas.
How Could Black Ice Cause a Crash?
When a vehicle goes over a patch of black ice, it can be difficult for the driver to maintain traction. Some factors increase the risk of a driver losing control, such as if he or she hits a patch of black ice while speeding. Reckless driving also increases the likelihood of a driver spinning out into oncoming traffic or sliding into a ditch, vehicle or another object.
The critical point is that, despite the risks of driving in bad weather, black ice is not the direct cause of a car crash. Like most traffic accidents, a black ice crash is typically the result of driver negligence or error.
Some of the most common types of negligence that may cause a black ice crash include:
- Driving too fast – or even going the speed limit – without considering the impact of bad weather
- Recklessly changing lanes where black ice is likely to have formed
- Driving under the influence during inclement weather (or at any time)
- Attempting to drive snowy or icy roads while fatigued or drowsy
- Trying to text or being distracted by other things despite the bad weather conditions
- Slamming on brakes to stop suddenly
- Following vehicles too closely for the weather
Unfortunately, black ice can very quickly cause drivers to lose control. These accidents often result in serious crashes and severe or life-threatening injuries. If this happens, who is responsible for your damages? Does the bad weather relieve those drivers of any liability in this situation?
Who is Liable if Black Ice Leads to a Crash?
It may surprise you to learn that many drivers believe they can blame a crash on bad weather. For instance, they may say they are not liable for your damages if their car slides on black ice and crashes into your vehicle. However, this is simply not true. Drivers can be held liable for damages if their negligent or reckless actions led to a black ice crash.
That said, the burden of proof is on the victim and his or her attorney to prove there was negligence. This means establishing:
- The driver had a duty to prevent causing you harm - such as following traffic laws and taking more precautions on winter roads
- The driver violated that duty of care - for instance, if the driver was recklessly speeding on icy, snowy roads
- A crash resulted from this breached duty and caused you to suffer damages - but for this crash you would not have been hurt or suffered medical costs and other losses
Proving negligence is difficult for most accident victims, especially those who are still being treated for their injuries. This is why crash victims should consider hiring a knowledgeable attorney who can protect their rights and best interests.
How Can I Avoid Being Involved in a Black Ice Crash?
Regardless of the weather, drivers are legally required to take reasonable steps to avoid causing a crash. To begin with, drivers need to stay informed about the weather, as well as when or where black ice is likely to form.
If you are not comfortable driving in bad weather, it may be best to stay off the roads when black ice or snow is present. If it is not possible to stay home because of work or other things, see if there are alternate routes you can take. Often primary roads, like major highways, are the first cleared. Secondary roads, like your favorite local roads, are typically cleared last. It may be better to stick to primary roads in bad weather.
When traveling during icy, winter weather, other reasonable steps may include:
- Driving slower than the posted speed limit to allow more time to react to hazards, like black ice
- Creating more distance from vehicles in front of you to allow more time and space to stop
- Preparing your vehicle for winter, such as by using the right tires for winter weather
- Properly maintaining your vehicle to ensure things, like your brakes, are in good working order
- Not engaging in any distracting behavior that could cause you to miss black ice or other hazards
- Keeping your windshield clean, wiper blades in good condition and washer tank filled
What Should I Do if My Car Hits a Patch of Black Ice?
Whenever you drive on black ice, remember that less is more. What this means is:
Do Not Make Sudden Movements With Your Vehicle
Do not accelerate, change lanes or turn your steering wheel quickly. In fact, any quick or jerky movements on black ice could cause your vehicle to slide.
Never Slam on the Brakes if You Start to Slide
Doing this could cause your vehicle to slide even more, and you could completely lose control of your vehicle.
Shift Down Instead of Braking
If you feel your vehicle slide or you see black ice, try shifting to a lower gear instead of braking – if possible. This can help you to maintain control of your vehicle.
Turn in the Direction of a Slide
Your vehicle may slide in a certain direction after hitting black ice. Often the natural reaction is to try to turn away from the direction you are going. However, it is better to gently turn into the slide. This can help you to regain control of your vehicle.
Hold Your Steering Wheel Firmly
If your vehicle begins to leave the road – or even your lane of traffic – hold it firmly and try to keep it going in the direction you were headed. If you cannot regain full control of your vehicle, try to steer it into the road shoulder and away from traffic.
Injured in a Crash? Our Trusted Law Firm is Ready to Help
Our Fort Worth-area vehicle crash attorneys have been helping injured victims for decades, including those injured by negligent drivers. Call our law offices today to find out if you have legal options for recovering compensation.
If someone else has caused you harm, there is no reason why you should have to pay for the damages. Having an attorney on your side helps to ensure you have the best chance of recovering the maximum possible compensation.
At Anderson Cummings, we have the resources and staff to get the job done. Deadlines apply, so be sure to contact our law offices today to learn more.
Worried about costs? There is no need. When we take car crash cases, there are zero upfront costs or fees to pay throughout the legal process. We only get paid for our services if we win your case.
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