Bad Weather Accidents Kill People
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), “Each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet. Over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy or icy pavement annually.” (1)
Weather conditions also take a toll on accidents in New York City (NYC). According to one study, “poor winter road conditions” contributed to a 20% increase in crashes during November and December where pedestrians were killed or seriously injured. (2)
Another NYC study underscores the point, indicating during “fall and winter months after daylight savings, crashes involving pedestrians dramatically increase, especially during evening hours.” (3)
How Snowy and Icy Weather Impacts Traffic and Road Conditions
Obviously snow and ice impact the potential for serious accidents. According to the FHA, snow and ice affect traffic and road conditions in many ways:
- “Snow and ice reduce pavement friction and vehicle maneuverability, causing slower speeds, reduced roadway capacity, and increased crash risk.” (4)
- “Average arterial speeds decline by 30 to 40 percent on snowy or slushy pavement.” (5)
- “Heavy snow and sleet can also reduce visibility.” (6)
- “Lanes and roads are obstructed by snow accumulation, which reduces capacity and increases travel time delay.” (7)
Weather’s impact on traffic and road conditions provides insight on why there are an increased number of crashes during winter weather events.
Why Snow and Ice Accidents Occur
Winter weather conditions — snow, ice, and sleet — can create treacherous driving conditions and lead to more accidents. Here are a few reasons why this can occur:
- Poor braking leading to rear end crashes: Many drivers are quick to hit the brakes to stop their vehicles. This may be effective during normal weather conditions — when roadways are clear. However, during winter weather events it can cause rear end crashes — as a vehicle skids or spins out of control. (8)
- Poor distancing or inattentiveness taking into consideration roadway conditions: A major cause of crashes is the failure of drivers to compensate for poor road conditions. Drivers need to continually adjust their driving to accommodate current conditions. They must remain alert and aware of other vehicles around them. Drivers rarely leave enough distance between their vehicle and others on the road. This is dangerous, because during inclement weather vehicles require more time and distance to safely come to a stop. (9)
- Reduced visibility causing lane drifting: “Cold temperatures and snowstorms bring fog that makes it nearly impossible to see,” warns AccuWeather. (10) During low visibility conditions, lane markings on roadways may not be visible. Maintaining a safe lane space becomes more difficult and drivers can easily wander into the path of other vehicles on the roadway.
- Spinning out on slick roads: Losing control of a vehicle is easy to do on slick and slippery roads. For example, vehicles can spin out on the all-but-impossible-to-see black ice. This layer of transparent ice makes the roadway appear normal to drivers approaching it. Slick and slippery conditions require slower speeds to safely navigate the roadway. (11)
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Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents
Serious snow and ice accidents can result in fatalities or other life-altering injuries. Car accidents can result in a wide range of severe injuries. Some of these injuries include:
- Broken bones or fractures — Broken bones require medical attention and can be quite serious. “The severity of a fracture usually depends on the force that caused the break…If the force is extreme, such as that caused by an automobile crash or gunshot, the bone may shatter,” says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (12)
- Death — “Weather-related vehicle accidents kill more people annually than large-scale weather disasters,” says one report. (13)
- Spinal injuries — “A traumatic spinal cord injury can stem from a sudden, traumatic blow to your spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more of your vertebrae,” states the Mayo Clinic. (14) It goes on to say spinal injuries can lead to paralysis. “Incomplete” paralysis is when there is some movement and sensation, while “complete” is a total loss of feeling and motor function. (15)
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) — There were 61,000 TBI-related deaths in the U.S. in 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (16) An earlier study reports TBIs in the U.S. reached a total of 1,565,000. Additionally, researchers determined “the leading causes of TBI were falls and motor vehicle traffic.” (17)
- Lacerations — “Lacerations are a pattern of injury in which skin and the underlying tissues are cut or torn.” (18) Lacerations vary in terms of location, depth, width, and length. When lacerations are serious, they may require surgery. These include: severe crush injuries, deep wounds or penetrating wounds of unknown depth; wounds with substantial concerns about cosmetic outcomes; and lacerations involving nerves, arteries, bones, or joints.
These injuries can be expensive and involve long recovery times. If someone has caused your injuries, you should seek compensation through legal action.
In your snow and ice accident lawsuit case, the court determines the party bearing legal responsibility (liability) for the accident. It awards damages for the harm done to you.
Liability of Snow and Ice Accidents Depends on Reasonable Precautions
Other drivers on the road have an obligation to take preventive actions to reduce the risk of an accident during poor weather conditions.
The driver who caused the accident can be held accountable. Insurance companies rarely blame an accident on ice or snow. Instead, they assume a reasonable driver would take precautions.
To win, you must show the court the other drivers did not take reasonable precautions to prevent the accident. Or they otherwise behaved negligently.
In making a determination, the court considers the “foreseeable likelihood that the person’s conduct will result in harm, the foreseeable severity of any harm that may ensue, and the burden of precautions to eliminate or reduce the risk of harm.” (19)
Involved in a snow or ice accident? Contact us today for a free case evaluation and to learn about your legal options.
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How W&L Can Help
Obviously, these cases can prove extremely complex. This is why you should choose an experienced attorney to represent you. A W&L attorney can help you achieve compensation for your injuries.
The W&L personal injury team is skilled and successful in handling vehicle accident cases. Just look at some of the results we achieved for our clients:
- $23.5 million awarded to our client paralyzed from the chest down in a hit-and-run car accident.
- $1.4 million settlement for our client struck by an ambulance in Manhattan.
- $2.96 million verdict for our client in a workplace accident involving a hi-lo and costing him part of his leg.