Who Can Be Held Liable if an Accident Happens Due to Black Ice?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on November 18, 2020  in Car Accident News. Updated on February 24, 2022

liability for black ice accidentsDuring the coldest months of the year, New Jersey may experience some below-freezing temperatures that bring snow and ice to the roadways.

Nearly 2,000 people die every year because of accidents on icy or snowy roads and more than 135,000 are injured. If possible, try to avoid driving during inclement weather events and avoid areas where black ice may be lurking.

If an accident happens, call the New Jersey car accident attorneys. We are prepared to help you file your claim and work to maximize your compensation. Below, learn more about liability for a black ice car accident and how to possibly reduce your risk of a crash.

What Causes Black Ice?

Black ice forms when it rains or snows. If the temperature is cold enough to freeze either the rainwater or the water that forms after the snow melts, ice will form. The ice that forms is not actually black, instead, it is transparent and takes on the color of the surface area it is covering. Black ice can also be caused by dew or fog, but this is less common. Black ice often forms on bridges, overpasses, and shadowy areas.

What Makes Black Ice So Dangerous?

The thing that makes black ice so treacherous is that it takes on the color of any surface it covers. The layer of ice is thin and clear and difficult to see, especially from a car.

Not only is it transparent, but it is also extremely slippery, and you will only know you are driving on black ice when you feel your car begin to slide or lose traction.

Causes of Black Ice Accidents

When black ice causes an accident, it is usually because the driver(s) were doing at least one of the following:

  • Speeding
  • Following too closely
  • Passing at an unsafe speed
  • Driving impaired
  • Driving while distracted
  • Driving when fatigued or drowsy
  • Braking suddenly

How Is Fault Determined for a Black Ice Accident?

Insurance companies hold drivers, not weather conditions, liable for car accidents. When a driver takes to the road, he or she has a duty of care to other drivers to take precautions that will prevent an accident.

However, there may be other outside factors that could help determine liability. For example, a municipality may be held liable if it does not take reasonable steps to maintain a roadway, such as making sure water drains from the road properly. If a roadway is not properly salted to keep black ice from forming, a maintenance company could be found liable.

Then there is the question of multi-vehicle pileups caused by black ice. One or more drivers could be responsible in a situation such as this. If more than one driver is liable, law enforcement, investigators, witnesses, and other sources could be used to help determine liability.

Whether liability is hard to establish or not, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced attorney who has the resources available to gather evidence and build your case.

How Can I Spot Black Ice?

Black ice may be difficult to see, especially from your car. But there are several indicators that may warn drivers about black ice spots.

Some areas where water tends to run off and pool during warmer temperatures may have black ice in the colder months. Try to avoid using overpasses, bridges, and other types of elevated roadways in the colder months, as black ice easily forms on them after rain or snowfall.

Shaded areas tend to allow black ice to form since the temperature is likely to be a lot lower in places that do not get direct sunlight.

The temperature is cooler during dawn and dusk hours, which means the chances of encountering black ice may be higher than at midday.

How to Avoid an Accident on Black Ice

There is no foolproof way to avoid black ice accidents, but slowing down is always a good idea in winter weather conditions. Keep your eyes on the road and maintain a proper following distance.

If you find yourself driving on black ice, do not panic and do not hit the brakes. Slowly lift your foot off the gas pedal and try to keep the steering wheel as straight as possible. If the back of your vehicle begins to slide, gently turn the steering wheel in the same direction you feel your car moving. Tires are designed to grip, so struggling against the slide will likely make your vehicle spin out. Once the tires get their grip and you gain traction again, you can gently correct the steering wheel.

If you are unable to gain control of your vehicle and it begins to spin out, your vehicle may regain traction relatively quickly because black ice patches are usually only about 20 feet long. If your vehicle does not regain traction and you find yourself skidding or spinning out, try to move your vehicle off the roadway to avoid a collision with another vehicle.

Let Us Review Your Claim at No Cost to You

If you or a loved one are involved in an accident due to black ice, call our offices today to speak to a member of our intake team who will review your claim.

We do not charge you anything upfront and you do not owe us anything unless we recover compensation on your behalf.

Call today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation at (800) 518-0508 .

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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