Car Accidents on Icy Roads

Winters in New England can be brutal not only with heavy snowfalls but with icy rain, sleet and hail. Icy road conditions are just waiting for careless drivers or those who fail to use common sense to cause serious car accidents.

Car and motor vehicle accidents on icy roads occur despite the efforts of municipalities to clear snow and salt roads to minimize icy surfaces. Still, not all roads can be cleared and icy road conditions can appear suddenly with a cold snap after a snowfall or sleet. You can reduce your risk of getting into an accident by doing the following:

  • Slow down. If you have to, leave early and give yourself time to get to your destination. Do not be frustrated by slow moving cars by speeding around them.
  • Do not tailgate. It takes longer to stop on icy roads and sudden braking can cause your car to slide into the rear of the vehicle in front of you.
  • Do not use cruise control. You sacrifice a portion of your control over your car while in cruise control and the car can suddenly accelerate when going up an incline, causing you to stomp on the brakes and going into a slide and out of control.
  • Use snow or winter tires. If you live in area of heavy snowfall, you need tires with deeper treads to give them more grip.  Or, get your tires checked as low tread tires have very little grip.
  • Ensure that your windshield wipers are working. Also, put in fresh anti-icing fluid in your window washing system and test it out.
  • Check to see if your vehicle has ABS, or anti-braking system. If so, you can handle a slide by pressing on the brake, then letting up and feeling for a “pulse” every second or so. If you have time, ease the brakes slowly.
  • Be cautious on bridges and ramps since they always freeze over first.
  • Stay at least 200 feet behind snowplow trucks and do not pass them on the right side.
  • Avoid driving at all if a major snowstorm is predicted or sleet is expected.
  • Do not drive distracted or impaired under any conditions.

Liability in an Icy Road Accident

You have a responsibility as a driver to exercise the degree of care that an ordinary driver would use under similar conditions. When icy roads are present, your duty of care is clear—drive extra carefully, slow down, do not tailgate and brake properly. Speed limits are for dry surfaces so you can be charged with speeding or careless driving if you drive at the posted speed limit under conditions where it would be hazardous. The same is true where the motorist behind you is unable to stop in time and slides into the back of your car, despite the fact it would have stopped on a dry road surface. Losing control of your car by not steering properly or panic braking can also expose you to liability if you cause an accident.

Damages in Car Accidents

Cars_skidding_editMassachusetts is a no-fault state and offers PIP or personal injury protection benefits to insureds regardless of fault. If you were injured in a car accident and have health insurance, you can collect up to $2,000 in medical costs and up to 75% of your lost wages that arise for up to 2 years after your accident. If you do not possess health insurance, then PIP covers up to $8,000 for medical expenses along with  75% of your lost earnings.

If your injuries were caused by the negligent driving conduct of another motorist, or from the carelessness of the driver of the car in which you were a passenger, then you can collect certain damages. Any damages you do collect will be reduced by the amount of PIP benefits you collected. These damages include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future wage losses
  • Property damage to your vehicle
  • Pain and suffering
  • Spousal claim for loss of consortium

You can be compensated for future medical and wage losses if a medical expert, for example, testifies that you will need future surgery and that you will be unable to work for a certain time. If your injuries are severe and you are disabled, then you may be able to collect the income you will lose over the time of your working life or career if available.

If you have uninsured motorist coverage (UM), then you can collect from your own insurer should the motorist who caused your accident be uninsured. A fair percentage of all cars on roadways are uninsured at any one time. Underinsured coverage (UIM) from your own policy can provide you additional compensation if your damages exceed the limits of the insured driver’s policy provided your UIM coverage exceed those limits. Your car accident attorney can explain how the UM and UIM process works if it applies to your situation.

Retain the Law Offices Burns & Jain

Car accidents on icy roads are a part of life in New England and can result in minor to catastrophic injuries such as head and brain trauma, broken limbs and hips, disfigurement, internal injuries, spinal injuries, and permanent physical, and cognitive impairments. Call car accident injury attorneys Neil Burns and Roshan Jain if you or a loved one has been injured in car accident to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.