What To Do If You Have A Winter Weather Car Accident

snow vehicle accidentAcross many states in our country, including Pennsylvania, winter weather is something that is part of life every year. At best, snow and ice are inconvenient, but at their worst they can be fatal.

When the roads are hazardous, accidents will always occur. Most of these accidents are completely unavoidable. However, some winter weather car accidents are partly, and sometimes wholly, due to negligence on the part of the drivers involved.

It can often be difficult to immediately determine if a collision was somebody’s fault, or purely a symptom of unfavorable weather conditions. Even if the police do not take the matter further, it does not mean that nobody is at fault. Somebody could have been negligent, leaving them legally responsible to any victims.

So it’s important that you understand the implications of a winter weather car accident and know what needs to be done in the event of you being involved in one.

What Are The Primary Causes Of Winter Weather Car Accidents?

There are numerous individual reasons why vehicle accidents are more common during winter weather conditions. They can be split into two groups of circumstances as follows:

Environmental Causes

Factors such as visibility and snow or ice on the road are major external causes of accidents. Sometimes wind can also exacerbate winter weather conditions making driving even more unpredictable.

External causes in their own right are beyond the control of road users. If these factors cause an accident, then no fault is attributable and it is purely due to bad luck of those involved.

Human Causes

ice snow winter car accidentThis is where fault occurs. In poor weather conditions, somebody could be driving too closely to the vehicle in front, leaving them unable to stop in time if something unexpected happens.

Speed is the most obvious potential human factor in causing an automobile accident, but there are others such as how well maintained the vehicle is. Poorly maintained tires and brakes can contribute to an accident when driving conditions are affected by weather.

Another key factor in many winter accidents is drivers not completely clearing their windshields. This is known as peephole driving, where snow or ice is only cleared for an area of the windshield that the driver directly looks through in order to see.

Peephole driving is now illegal in many states. In Pennsylvania for example, all motor vehicle users are required by law to remove ice and snow from the hood, roof and windshield before they begin to drive.

This is not just to stop accidents caused by poor visibility. It’s also about the usually little considered risk when loose snow is blown from the vehicle onto cars behind it, sometimes in quantities large enough to obscure the vision of the people in those vehicles. And even worse, at times causing windshields to crack and break.

What Should I Do At The Scene Of A Winter Weather Vehicle Accident?

Depending on the winter weather conditions, what you do at the scene of an accident can be slightly different from actions taken during normal driving conditions.

Immediately after impact, you should put on your emergency lights if they are operable. Then you should check for injuries to passengers in your own vehicle, as well as other cars and people involved, and make the appropriate emergency calls. Keep vehicle lights on to increase the chances of other drivers seeing the accident in time.

If everybody is able to walk away, you should then determine if it is safe to stay around the vehicle. If other drivers are sliding on slippery road surfaces, it may be advisable to get as far away as possible.

A judgment call should be made rather quickly on whether the police should be called or not. In most cases it is a good idea to have the police come to the accident scene, especially so they can help divert traffic and make the scene as safe as possible. The safety of other drivers is paramount.

Then undertake the usual things such as exchanging names, telephone numbers and addresses. Also get insurance information, plus the names of any witnesses where possible. Take photos of the scene using your cell phone camera.

Do not discuss the cause of the accident with anyone at the scene. Do not start arguments, and do not admit any liability. Never leave the scene of an accident until everything is cleared up, or the police tell you you can leave.

What Next?

winter collision accidentAs soon as you leave the scene, make sure that you call your insurance agent and report the accident in detail. Ask them about any time limits for filing a claim.

Then make a call to your attorney to discuss the circumstances surrounding the accident with them. This is especially important if anyone was injured, or damage beyond your own vehicle occurred. Even if you do not feel injured, but there was a whiplash motion during the crash, make sure you discuss these circumstances with your attorney.

An attorney specializing in car accidents, like Donaghue & Labrum, will be able to carefully review the circumstances of the accident, advise you on how any relevant laws apply, and discuss with you your legal rights and obligations.

If your attorney determines a third party was at fault, then they will be able to professionally help you start the legal process and ensure that you get full compensation for your property damage and any potential personal injuries.

Donaghue & Labrum has a team of attorneys who specialize in dealing with winter weather car accident claims. We have a long track record in successfully fighting for those who are injured during a weather-related accident to ensure victims are fully compensated and able to successfully move on with their lives. Call us at 610-565-9120 for a free consultation.