Winter weather can bring a variety of hazardous conditions to our roadways. Heavy snowfall, ice, and poorly cleared roads can lead to difficulty in controlling vehicles, which increases the chances of car accidents. How do insurance companies view liability in these circumstances?
When an insurance company determines fault, all circumstances of the accident are reviewed. This includes things like inclement weather or bad road conditions. If your car slides through an intersection or into another vehicle, or if you lose control and go off the road as a result of slick surfaces, you may feel that it is the road and not the driver at fault.
Unfortunately, in the eyes of an insurance company, it remains the driver’s responsibility to keep the vehicle under control no matter what the road conditions. Although icy roads can definitely contribute to an accident and no driver can be expected to control the weather, drivers must take extra precautions when driving in these conditions in order to avoid an accident.
In some cases, a 50-50 fault determination may be made and this might be the case when two cars collide due to both drivers losing control because of inclement weather or road conditions. This does not, however, clear either driver of fault; it only acknowledges that the fault was shared.
What Happens after Fault is Determined
If you are determined to be at-fault in an accident and you feel that the determination is wrong, you have the right to appeal the decision. You may cite bad weather or road conditions as the reason why you feel you are not at fault, but the insurance company will not use this alone as a determining factor. Unless you can show that another party was at fault, the determination will likely stand.
Avoiding a Winter Accident
Be sure to winterize your car to avoid engine trouble that could cause you to lose control of the car and switch to a windshield fluid containing antifreeze to keep windows clear. Check your tires and use appropriate winter models during the snowy months and carry chains if you plan to drive through mountainous areas. Clean your headlights and all windows and mirrors to clear off the dirt that can build up during snowy months and defrost windows completely before leaving home.
When on the road, be sure to drive slowly and carefully and allow extra stopping distance, should the vehicle slide, giving you more time to gain control of the car. If the road conditions are very bad, it is usually best to stay off the road altogether.
The Law Offices of Dussault & Zatir