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Rear-Ended in Winter Weather: Legal Responsibilities in Texas?

Rear-Ended in Winter Weather: Legal Responsibilities in Texas?

Winter weather makes driving challenging and dangerous. Sometimes, drivers have no confidence or experience driving in ice, snow, or sleet, which increases the likelihood of accidents. Regardless of how cautious you are on the road, there is always the possibility that a winter-weather accident may occur.

If someone rear-ends you because of ice or snow, you may wonder if that driver is still responsible for the collision.

This is a good question. Here is what our rear-end car accident lawyer at The Burkett Law Firm has to say.

Fault in Accidents Caused by Black Ice or Snow

Many accidents in Texas that involve black ice or snow involve multiple vehicles. Unfortunately, these incidents also cause multiple injuries in many situations.

Due to the complexity of these cases, it can be difficult to determine liability and cause a lot of frustration for the victims involved.

You may want to know if your insurance will cover the injuries and damages you sustain. If another vehicle started to slide on the ice or snow and struck your car, you may be able to recover through your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. In other situations, you must file a claim to recover from the at-fault driver’s liability coverage.

Some drivers are surprised to discover they are considered at fault for accidents during a snowstorm or on icy roads. However, drivers must take steps to stay safe and keep others on the road safe. If they do not do this and cause an accident, they will be held liable.

Weather Cannot be Blamed for a Texas Car Accident

While this may seem unfair, weather can not be considered the at-fault party in rear-end car accidents. Regardless of the weather, all drivers on the road must drive safely, regardless of the conditions. The conditions include snow, black ice, and wind.

If you (as a driver) do not feel like you can meet the duty and drive safely in the weather conditions, you should pull over or avoid driving.

It is important to understand that it is your responsibility if you do not stop in time and hit someone. Even if snow or ice played a role in your accident, the person (you or someone else) who hits someone is still responsible for the situation.

Looking at the Big Picture

Insurance companies will look at the whole situation and circumstances when determining fault. Hazardous conditions and bad weather will play a role when reviewing the case; however, someone has to be named at fault for the accident.

While hazardous conditions do not eliminate a driver’s fault when a car accident occurs, it could impact if the driver acted recklessly. It is necessary to look at the whole situation to determine if higher damages should be awarded.

Also, since Texas uses the modified comparative negligence law, more than one party may be at fault. However, only a claimant who is less than 51% at fault can file a claim for damages and injuries.

Where Are Ice-Related Accidents Most Likely to Occur?

Ice will form on the road when moisture freezes and creates a thin layer. What makes this so dangerous is that ice will appear to be the same color as the road, which is where the term “black ice” came from. It makes it challenging for drivers to see.

Because of the risk ice poses to drivers, it is important to know where it is most likely. Some of the “hot spots” for black ice include the following:

  • Cold rain. If even a light rain falls and the temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, black ice may start to form.
  • Overpasses and bridges. Temperatures will drop quickly on elevated surfaces. Sometimes, you will see signs warning you to “watch for ice on bridges” as you approach them.
  • Shadows. When the sun is out, it often burns away black ice before it forms completely (which is good news). However, in shadowy areas (under trees, tunnels, and other shadowed areas), black ice often lingers and poses a risk to drivers.

Vehicles with four-wheel or all-wheel drive may still lose traction and be involved in an accident because of black ice. Since black ice is so hard to spot, you must be cautious. You should slow down if you see a shiny spot on the road, as this is likely black ice.

Tips to Avoid a Black Ice Accident

Thousands of people are injured in ice and snow related accidents each year. There are a few things you can do to avoid being a victim, which include the following:

  • Slow down. If you are speeding and hit black ice, you will have almost no chance to regain control of your vehicle.
  • Increase your following distance. Drivers that hit black ice will take around nine times the distance to stop than they would on a dry road.
  • Use your headlights. Even in the afternoon, you should turn your headlights on to help you see shiny spots on the road.
  • Maintain your vehicle’s tires. Worn or bald tires can be extremely dangerous if you hit the ice.
  • Turn your cruise control off. If you are on the road, using cruise control, and you hit a patch of black ice, this is going to make things much more difficult.

Contact Us for Help with Your Car Accident Claim

If you are involved in a winter-weather-related accident, you have rights. One right is to recover compensation from the at-fault party. Our Texas car accident lawyer will help you recover the full value of your claim. Contact our team at The Burkett Law Firm to learn more.

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