Winter car crashes happen unexpectedly, and they can be devastating to many different parties connected to the collision. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 70 percent of U.S. roads are located in regions that receive more than five inches of snowfall each year. In these regions of the country, about 24 percent of all accidents that occur in inclement weather “occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement, and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet,” according to the FHWA. If you were recently injured in a winter car accident, the following are some important things you should know.
You Can Take Steps to Avoid a Winter Car Accident
Winter car crashes are not inevitable. In fact, most of these collisions are avoidable if motorists take certain precautions. To avoid a winter car accident, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recommends some of the following tips:
- Ensure that you have tires with sufficient tread, and make sure that they are properly inflated;
- Avoid using cruise control whenever you are at risk of driving on an icy surface;
- Drive more slowly than you would in better weather;
- Increase the following distance you leave behind other vehicles by five or six seconds, recognizing that it can take longer to stop safely if the road is slick due to snow or ice; and
- Never stop if you are driving up a hill that may be icy.
Winter Vehicle Collisions Can Happen for Many Different Reasons
There are many different reasons for car accidents in the winter, and many of them involve driver error. For example, any kind of aggressive driving, intoxicated driving, or distracted driving can make wintertime travel must riskier for others on the road.
Another Driver Can Be At Fault Even If the Weather Was Bad
When there is inclement winter weather, drivers have a duty to behave accordingly. In other words, traveling at a speed that is just below the speed limit might not be reasonable if visibility is poor and roads are slick. This means that drivers that appear to be obeying the speed limit and other road rules still may be liable for accidents in winter weather if they do not drive as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. You should never assume that the accident is faultless because of inclement weather.
Other Parties Could Be At Fault for Your Injuries
Some winter car accidents happen for reasons beyond driver negligence and inclement weather. Most frequently, other causes involve defective auto parts. For example, if a vehicle is equipped with defective tires or defective brakes, that product defect may have been the cause of the collision. In such a case, you could be eligible to file a product liability lawsuit against the designer or the manufacturer of the auto part.
You Will Need to File Your Claim Quickly
Virginia law (Code of Va. § 8.01-243) only gives injured parties a limited amount of time to file a claim. If you were injured in a motor vehicle collision that occurred in wintry weather, Virginia law likely gives you two years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. If you wait beyond that two-year period, your claim will become time-barred under Virginia law. Once your claim has become time-barred, you will not be eligible to obtain damages through a car accident lawsuit. Accordingly, the sooner you can begin working with a Northern Virginia car accident attorney on your case, the better.
Contact a Manassas Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a collision that occurred during inclement weather, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against one or more parties responsible for the crash. One of our experienced Manassas car accident attorneys can evaluate your case today and can help you to determine potential options for moving forward with a claim. Contact Dougherty Tobias Iszard, Northern Virginia Law, P.C. to learn more about working with our firm on your car accident lawsuit.