Who May Be Liable for an Accident Caused by Black Ice?

black ice on country roadAccording to the Federal Highway Administration, there are more than a million accidents caused by inclement weather every year. Many of these happen during the winter due to black ice, a dangerous road condition that is difficult to see.

However, even in bad weather conditions such as these, the insurance company may still place blame for a black ice accident on the driver, not the icy conditions.

The experienced auto accident lawyers at Greg Coleman Law understand how winter weather crashes occur and how an insurance company may assign liability. If you have been injured in a car crash caused by black ice or other inclement weather, call for a free consultation to discuss your potential legal options. You will not have to pay retainer fees to hire our services as we do not collect attorney fees unless we recover compensation.

How Fault Is Determined in an Ice-Related Accident

It is the driver’s responsibility to either avoid driving in bad weather or slow down and take other reasonable precautions to avoid an accident. If a motorist causes an accident by driving aggressively or too fast for the weather or road conditions, the insurance company will likely determine you are at fault, not the icy roads.

If two or more drivers share liability for an accident, law enforcement, insurance adjusters and accident reconstruction specialists (if necessary) will investigate the crash and determine the degree of fault for all parties involved.

Under Tennessee’s modified comparative fault system, an injured driver who contributed to the accident can still pursue a claim for damages as long as he or she was 49 percent or less at fault.

However, the amount of compensation the injured victim will receive is reduced by his or her degree of fault. For example, if a driver is liable for 10 percent of an accident and the damages award is $100,000, his or her compensation would be reduced by 10 percent, or $10,000, and the victim would receive the balance of $90,000.

Common Causes of Black Ice Collisions

Collisions in this type of weather often happen because one or more drivers are:

  • Speeding
  • Aggressively tailgating or following other cars too closely
  • Trying to pass other vehicles when it is not safe, or passing them at an unsafe speed
  • Driving distracted or impaired
  • Driving when fatigued
  • Slamming brakes on too suddenly and not allowing enough time to stop safely

    How to Avoid a Crash Caused by Black Ice

    Avoiding a car crash caused by black ice begins by understanding when it may be present and then adjusting your driving behavior to avoid it. Black ice is most likely to occur during early morning or late-night hours when temperatures are at their lowest and the sun cannot melt the ice. However, it can also be present during normal daylight hours, especially in shaded areas or on bridges.

    Additional steps for avoiding a black ice collision include:

    • Staying at home and off the roads - If at all possible, avoid driving when weather conditions are severe.
    • Winterizing your vehicle – Regularly maintain your vehicle and ensure it is ready for the cold weather, including maintaining brakes, replacing and properly inflating tires, and more  
    • Checking fluid levels and ensure your windshield washer fluid contains antifreeze – This will help keep your windows clear without adding more ice to them.
    • Cleaning your headlights, windows and mirror before setting out – This will increase your visibility. Also, remove any snow on them before venturing out.
    • Adjusting your speed - Slow down so that if you do encounter ice on the road, you can respond more quickly and have a better chance of avoiding an accident.
    • Creating space – Add extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you so that you will have more time to stop if necessary.
    • Educating yourself about driving in bad weather - Understand how to protect yourself if you encounter black ice while driving.

    How an Attorney Can Help If You Have an Icy Weather Accident

    If you were involved in a winter weather car crash, one of our licensed lawyers at Greg Coleman Law is prepared to help. If you have a valid case, we are ready to investigate the accident and the other party’s negligent driving behavior while managing the entire case on your behalf.

    We accept car crash cases on contingency - we charge no money for you to hire us, we only charge after winning a verdict or settlement on your behalf.

    Schedule your free consultation today: (865) 247-0080