Is a Driver Liable if a Car Crash Occurs on an Icy Road?
If a driver collides with your vehicle on a slick road, they may argue that they are not liable for your injuries because the dangerous road conditions made the crash impossible to avoid.
Winter weather conditions can sometimes make for a scary driving experience. Snow, ice, or slush might create slippery road surfaces, which can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle and crash.
Icy roads can also complicate motor vehicle accident claims. If a driver collides with your vehicle on a slick road, they may argue that they are not liable for your injuries because the dangerous road conditions made the crash impossible to avoid. The condition of the road can also be a factor in determining whether a driver was at fault in an accident, and hence, whether insurance will pay for all damages caused in a crash.
The attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers are skilled in handling motor vehicle accident claims of all kinds, including motor vehicle accidents that occur in winter weather. Here are a few factors that commonly come up in these types of claims.
Negligent driver behavior
When you get behind the wheel, you owe a duty of care to drive responsibly — not only for your own safety but for the safety of everyone else on the road. When hazardous conditions are present, this means you must reduce your speed and otherwise use extra caution to reduce the chances of an accident.
For this reason, motor vehicle accident claims primarily focus on the behavior of each driver rather than the road conditions at the time of a crash. Drivers are expected to be aware of any hazards the weather might create — many vehicles even issue a warning that ice might be present when they are started on days with freezing temperatures — and respond accordingly.
If you are involved in an accident with another driver who was not exercising due caution at the time of the crash, they can be held liable for your injuries. Some examples of negligent behavior include:
- Driving too fast for conditions: During hazardous conditions, drivers are expected to slow down to travel at a safe speed — even if their vehicle is equipped with four-wheel drive, snow tires, or other features to help them navigate winter weather. Drivers who travel too fast for conditions may not be able to safely stop on a slippery road.
- Following too closely: Drivers must always maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of them so they can stop, if necessary. During slippery conditions, drivers are expected to increase this following distance to account for reduced traction.
- Inadequate maintenance: A driver’s duty of care includes keeping their vehicle in safe working condition. Certain maintenance issues, such as tires and brakes, will make it more difficult for a driver to operate their vehicle and avoid a crash in icy conditions.
- Failing to take other precautions: A driver might be held liable if they do not take other proper precautions in poor weather conditions, such as using their headlights during low visibility conditions and clearing their windshield of snow and ice.
Factors that limit a driver’s liability
In some cases, a court may decide that a crash resulted from the inherent risks of driving in hazardous weather during the winter, not negligence on a driver’s part. Even if a driver is found to be negligent in a crash, certain factors can limit their liability. These include:
- Unpredictable hazards: If a driver encounters something unusual on a road with little or no warning, they may be able to argue that they did not have adequate time to respond to the hazard.
- Reasonable driving behaviors: A driver may be able to show that the accident occurred even though they were taking the necessary precautions, such as reducing their speed.
- Uncontrollable sliding: Some circumstances, such as a severe ice buildup and sloped roads, can cause vehicles to slide uncontrollably. This can be considered a mitigating factor that reduces a driver’s liability in a crash.
On public roadways, it is the duty of the state or municipal government to keep the road reasonably clear of snow and ice in order to permit safe travel. They are also responsible for the upkeep of features that can improve road safety and reduce accident severity, such as streetlights and barriers that separate the road from a steep slope.
Governments typically have immunity protections against certain lawsuits, on the principle that excessive litigation could impede the government’s ability to provide services. However, municipal or state governments can still be held liable if they fail to properly maintain a road.
For example, you might show that a town’s public works department failed to sand and salt the road despite adequate warning of potential icing, or that they did not respond to icy conditions in a timely manner. You can also argue that inadequate maintenance of safety features contributed to a more severe accident.
If the crash occurred on a private road, you may be able to file a claim against the entity responsible for maintaining the road. Certain other factors will also affect liability for motor vehicle accidents on private roads, such as contractual agreements between a homeowners association and the party responsible for the upkeep of the road.
Let’s review your case
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, the skilled attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers can help. We’ll review the circumstances of your accident and help you get the settlement or verdict you deserve. Contact us online or call us at 860.886.8845 to set up a free consultation.
Injured by a Connecticut Driver Under the Influence of Marijuana? We Can Help
State law clearly says that drugged driving is a type of driving under the influence, and drivers who cause a crash while high are subject to the same penalties as drivers who cause crashes while under the influence of alcohol.
Though medical marijuana has been legal in Connecticut since 2012, recreational marijuana use has only been permitted for a short period. The state legislature legalized the drug for recreational use in 2021, and retail marijuana sales started earlier this year.
This decision has ramifications for personal injury claims following a motor vehicle accident. Now that recreational marijuana possession, use, and sales are legal in Connecticut, police departments have expressed their concern that there might be an increase in impaired driving in the state. This, in turn, could lead to more crashes caused by drivers under the influence of marijuana.
State law clearly says that drugged driving is a type of driving under the influence, and drivers who cause a crash while high are subject to the same penalties as drivers who cause crashes while under the influence of alcohol. If you have been involved in a crash where marijuana was a factor, the skilled attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers can get you the settlement or verdict you deserve.
Marijuana’s effect on drivers
Marijuana use affects a driver’s cognitive functions, making it more difficult for them to operate a motor vehicle. The drug can impair a driver’s motor function, reaction time, tracking ability, and peripheral vision; it can also impede their decision-making abilities, judgment, and impulse control.
In short, marijuana makes a driver less capable of the complex process of operating a motor vehicle, less able to respond to road conditions, and more likely to make poor decisions or lose focus on driving. All of these factors increase the chances of a driver under the influence of marijuana being involved in an accident — especially if they have been using the drug together with other intoxicants such as alcohol.
Unfortunately, while the negative effects of alcohol use on driving ability are well-known and publicized, drivers are generally less aware of the impairment caused by marijuana. This is worsened by a common misconception that it’s safe to drive after using marijuana (or at least not as dangerous as driving drunk); some drivers even mistakenly believe their driving ability is improved when they’re high.
Connecticut’s DUI law
Connecticut’s law regarding driving under the influence is not limited to alcohol. The law states that a DUI offense is committed when driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or both. This could be alcohol, marijuana, or cold medicine.
This means that drivers who operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana are subject to the same criminal penalties as those who drive drunk, including the possibility of a license suspension, fines, or jail. They are also subject to liability in civil court, mainly through personal injury lawsuits.
Proving that a driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of an accident is more challenging than proving that they were under the influence of alcohol. While a blood-alcohol test provides a relatively simple and reliable way to determine if a driver is impaired at the time of operation, there is no comparable test to determine if a driver is impaired by marijuana.
The effects of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, vary considerably from person to person. Someone with low levels of THC may be considerably impaired, while someone with high levels may show minimal signs of impairment. And since THC lingers in the bloodstream, someone can test positive for the compound well after any intoxicating effects have worn off. In sum, there is really no scientific method to connect the amount of THC in a driver’s bloodstream to impaired driving. Therefore, other factors must be investigated and preserved at the time of the crash.
The police report may include observations suggesting that the driver appeared to be high shortly after the crash, such as red eyes and sleepiness. Other witnesses may be able to show that the driver exhibited poor judgment consistent with being under the influence of marijuana. Physical evidence can also point to the effects of marijuana impairment, such as shorter skid marks indicating a slow reaction time.
The presence of marijuana in another driver’s vehicle doesn’t necessarily indicate that they were high at the time of the crash, since Connecticut law permits the possession and transportation of marijuana in a vehicle. However, marijuana can only be kept in the glove compartment or trunk when in a vehicle; if it was found in a more accessible location, this could help establish that they were using the drug during or shortly before the accident.
The consequences of a DUI accident
Just like a crash caused by a drunk driver, an accident caused by marijuana impairment can have serious consequences — including the possibility of wrongful death.
If you are injured by a driver who was under the influence of marijuana, we can help ensure that you receive compensation proportional to your losses. We work with medical professionals and economists to help quantify the financial impact of the accident on your life, including medical expenses, lost wages, and diminished quality of life.
If you or a loved one were involved in an accident you believe was caused by a driver operating under the influence, contact the attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers for a free consultation. Call us at 860-886-8845 or contact us online.
Fighting Biases in a Motorcycle Accident Claim
Injuries received in a motorcycle accident are often debilitating and life-changing, but injured motorcyclists face an additional challenge as well: deep-seated biases that can make it more difficult to succeed in a claim against another motorist or an insurance company.
Some people consider motorcyclists to be reckless, irresponsible, and dangerous. This bias can affect the people who witness the accident, the first responders who treat the injured motorists, the judge and jury hearing a claim, and the insurance adjusters determining the value of a claim.
It’s important to understand these biases when filing a claim in a motorcycle accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer will work to push back against “motorcycle bias” and get you the settlement or verdict you deserve.
Examples of motorcycle bias
People can be biased against motorcyclists because they believe:
- Motorcycles are too difficult to see on the road
- Motorcycles are too fast or loud
- Motorcyclists are risk-takers
- Motorcycling is a risky behavior and motorcyclists knowingly assume the risks of the road
- Motorcyclists are irresponsible young men prone to dangerous behavior
Any of these biases can make a person more likely to believe that a motorcyclist is at fault in an accident.
Insurance company biases against motorcyclists
above but also because statistics seem to indicate that motorcyclists are more dangerous motorists. For example, motorcyclists are associated with a higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents. While this is a result of their more limited protections and smaller size, insurers may believe that it’s due to reckless riding.
Insurers may also believe that motorcyclists’ injuries are a result of poor decisions, such as choosing not to wear a helmet. Connecticut does not require a motorcyclist to wear a helmet. In fact, about two-thirds of motorcyclists wear a helmet and injuries are more common because motorcyclists are more exposed in collisions with motor vehicles.
Bias from insurance companies can lead to a denial of claims or a reduction in value. This, in turn, can leave a motorcyclist struggling to pay their medical bills and other expenses after an accident, and little to nothing for the way their injuries affect their day to day life.
When filing a motorcycle accident claim, we make the argument that the greater risks associated with motorcycles don’t mean that motorcyclists are inherently riskier drivers. A person riding a motorcycle responsibly still presents far less risk to themselves and others on the road than a person driving a motor vehicle irresponsibly.
Overcoming motorcycle bias
When filing a claim related to a motorcycle accident, the attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers work to address and overcome any potential biases that may affect the case. This strategy helps ensure that the claim gets fair consideration.
The use of accident reconstruction experts can build a convincing set of arguments supported by evidence, such as photographs, diagrams, videos, skid mark measurements, and analyses of vehicle damage to combat assumptions that the motorcyclist was driving recklessly.
We also confront these biases during jury selection to minimize the effects of bias when the claim is settled or goes to trial. By making jurors aware of motorcycle bias, we help ensure that they aren’t unconsciously affected by it.
Witness testimony is particularly valuable. Statements from friends and family can separate you from negative stereotypes and emphasize that you are a safe, law-abiding motorcyclist.
Injured in a motorcycle accident?
If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle accident, contact the attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers for a free consultation.