What to Know About Winter Driving Accidents

Residents and travelers in New York have to be prepared for some of the most extreme weather conditions. From the hot, muggy summers to the cold, snowy winters. Unfortunately, these icy winter conditions create a high chance of getting into a driving accident. There are nearly 140,000 emergency room visits each year in New York due to traffic accidents, and icy and snowy conditions make it even more likely that such accidents can happen to you. 

If you’ve recently been in a car accident due to winter weather conditions, but are unsure of who was at fault or your next steps, call me at the Law Office of Steven R. Smith. I’ve built my practice to focus solely on personal injury and accident cases, and pride myself on avoiding costly litigation whenever possible and pursuing fair settlements instead. I proudly serve clients throughout Long Island, Hempstead, Westbury, Mineola, and New Hyde Park, New York.

New York is a No-Fault State

The first thing to understand about potential liability in an accident is that New York is a no-fault state. No-fault means that regardless of whose fault the accident was, your personal injury insurance will cover expenses equivalent to lost income, medical bills, and transportation to and from doctor’s appointments. No-fault differs from an at-fault state where damages need to be paid by the “at-fault” driver.

While living in a no-fault state can make it simpler to get immediate financial compensation, it can often fail to cover all your expenses especially if you have been seriously injured. Because of this, many accident victims find it necessary to either push back on their insurance provider to cover more of their out-of-pocket costs, pursue an insurance settlement through the other driver’s insurance, or file a personal injury claim. All these measures need thorough investigation, evaluation and must be handled by an experienced attorney.

Liability for Weather-Related Negligent Behavior 

In cases where you’re seeking damages from the other driver’s insurance, you must prove that they failed to exercise “reasonable care” when the accident happened. In cases of winter driving, these reasonable care standards are adjusted to account for the weather-related conditions. 

Some examples of winter-specific liability include:

  • Failing to clear snow and ice from your car, windows, or headlights
  • Failing to exercise reasonable caution, such as driving at slower speeds 
  • Failing to leave more space between yourself and other cars
  • Failing to possess proper traction devices such as snow tires or chains when required

If you can prove that the driver’s negligence caused an accident and that accident resulted in your injuries, you’ll have grounds to seek damages. 

Tips for Driving in Winter Weather

Regardless of who’s at fault in accidents like this, it’s incumbent upon all of us to exercise additional caution when driving in winter weather. Snow plowers in New York take preventative measures by clearing the roads, but you still need to do your part. Plows move slower than other vehicles and have limited visibility, never attempt to pass a plow, and maintain plenty of distance when driving behind one.

Before you even begin driving, you should ensure your vehicle is ready for the roads. The following tips are essential when traveling on winter road conditions:

  • Verify that your tire pressure is correct
  • Scrape any ice or snow off your vehicle’s surfaces
  • Install snow tires or carry chains
  • Possess an emergency kit
  • Check road and weather conditions before you leave
  • Reduce your speed
  • Increase your following distance
  • Use your brakes cautiously

If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident due to weather conditions, you need to speak with an experienced attorney to help you determine liability. 

Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney

It is rare for insurance to cover all expenses related to the accident. It is comprehensible that winter road and weather conditions increase the risk of accidents, and your insurance provider can try to prove that you were negligent. Remember, insurance companies seek the bottom line and may not pursue your best interest. I can help you fight for fair compensation from the insurance companies, navigate the claims process, and, if needed, litigate your case in court. 

Contact Me at the Law Office of Steven R. Smith

The last thing you want to worry about after an accident is going back and forth with a claims adjuster or trying to negotiate a personal injury claim. Accidents are traumatic, even if you manage to escape with only minor injuries. If you are in the New York or Long Island area and feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to best meet your needs during this time, contact me to set up a consultation. As a personal injury attorney, it is crucial to help my clients get the care and compensation they deserve. I also proudly serve the surrounding areas of Hempstead, Westbury, Mineola, and New Hyde Park, New York.


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