Who is Liable for an Accident Caused by Low Visibility While it is Snowing?
When an accident occurs due to poor visibility caused by snow and other winter weather, there are a few factors that need to be looked at to determine liability.
If you were injured in an accident caused by another driver who was negligent while driving in the snow, you may be eligible for compensation. Call a New Jersey car accident lawyer to learn about your legal options.
How Does Snow Affect Visibility?
Snow can make it much harder for drivers to clearly see the road and the vehicles nearby. Snow not only affects visibility as it falls but also after. As the snow falls and begins to pile up on the ground, wind may blow it onto vehicles and into their windshields.
The more snow that falls, the smaller the distance you can see around your vehicle. For example, light snow may reduce visibility to half a mile while heavier snow may reduce it to a quarter-mile.
Snow also affects depth-of-field and contrast in a driver’s visibility when hit with a certain amount of light. When skies are overcast, an optical illusion called flat light may impair your depth perception. This could make it especially difficult to determine how close or far away an object, such as another vehicle, may be.
More intense snow conditions may also result in a white-out, where a driver’s vision is engulfed by a uniformly white glow possibly caused by blowing snow. White-out conditions tend to rid objects of shadows, make horizons disappear and a driver may become easily disoriented due to lack of contrast.
Duty of Care Still Applies During Winter Weather Conditions
Driving when your visibility is impaired by snow can be dangerous. Luckily, snow and other major weather events may be anticipated, so refraining from driving under such hazardous conditions may be the safest decision to avoid an accident.
But when staying home is not an option, drivers who take to the roadway during snowfall still have a duty of care to other drivers to try and avoid an accident. That is why there are certain measures drivers need to take or risk facing the consequences of their negligence if an accident occurs.
Tips for Driving in Snow
Liability for car accidents generally falls on people, not the weather, even accidents that occur due to inclement weather. It is important to keep some safety tips in mind when out and about in snowy conditions.
The most important thing to do is slow down. Speeding is the cause of an astronomical amount of car accidents every year, with or without major weather events. Slowing down when visibility is reduced helps give you additional time to react to obstructions on the road.
Second, focus on the road and your surroundings. Distracted driving is another major cause of car accidents that result in serious injuries or death. If your visibility behind the wheel is reduced by falling snow, paying attention to road signs, other vehicles and possible obstructions in the middle of the road may help you avoid an accident.
Lastly, using your headlights and turn signals will help other vehicles around you know your intentions. This may reduce your chances of an accident because other drivers may anticipate your actions.
Overall, defensive driving is important because it gives you the opportunity to stop sooner, react quicker and maneuver accordingly to avoid an accident.
Filing a Claim
Because drivers are expected to take safety precautions when on the roadway, determining liability for an accident caused by snowy conditions may be straightforward, as some of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents during the winter months are:
- Following too closely
- Impaired driving
- Distracted driving
- Sudden braking
If a driver was engaged in any of those acts when his or her vehicle crashed into yours, the liability for damages may fall on them.
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