Legal Liability For Car Crashes Caused By Ice


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Car crashes caused by ice are a common in most winter-weather states. They are more common at the beginning of the winter weather season which would suggest that there is a learning curve to driving on ice. Driving in icy conditions requires different driving skill and tactics than driving in dry conditions.  Drivers must drive more slowly, allow more space between cars in front of them, begin braking earlier than usual and use caution when accelerating to not spin their wheels. 

Drivers Must Use Extreme Caution on Ice

Legal liability for any crash is the key to determining who is responsible for the accident and who must pay for the resulting damages.  Given the responsibility of drivers to be aware of driving conditions and to change their driving habits based on conditions, a driver is often legally liable for a car crash caused by ice.  A driver who doesn’t slow down soon enough, or who doesn’t stay far back from the vehicle in front of him and cannot bring his car to a stop in time to avoid a crash will be held liable for not driving safely for the conditions. There are exceptions to this though as each particular case is different. A driver who stops suddenly or unexpectedly on ice may be struck from behind because the other driver had no warning of his intention to stop.  In that case, there may be legal liability assigned to the driver of the car which was struck from behind.  There are situations in snow and ice where witnesses may testify that the driver was cautious and did everything he could to avoid an accident but the ice was too treacherous to drive on. In those cases, it is possible that no driver would be legally liable and a driver’s own insurance would have to cover the damages.

Road Maintenance Crews May be Liable

Liability is sometimes assigned to someone who was not even at the accident scene.  A city, county or state is responsible for clearing roadways under its jurisdiction.  A failure on the part of the city to either correct icy conditions or warn of a hazardous condition of which they are aware can lead to liability for the party responsible for road maintenance.  A city, county or state will not usually be held liable for icy conditions that cause an accident during a storm on roads because it would not be reasonable to expect them to stay on top of every road while the snow and ice is forming. Following a storm though, or in the situation where a river has damned or a sewer has clogged forming ice on the road, then the party responsible for road maintenance might be liable if they knew about the danger and did nothing to correct or warn of it.  A private party may also be liable for an accident in a parking lot where there is ice on the pavement and there was ample time for the owner of the parking lot to clear the ice.

Getting Legal Help

An accident victim from a car crash on ice should consult an experienced personal injury attorney regardless of who the victim believes was at fault for the accident. A personal injury attorney can assess the particular situation and may find that someone other than the accident victim (or driver of the injured party’s car) is legally liable.

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