Am I legally responsible for a car accident if my car slid on ice or snow?

All Chicago drivers are familiar with the awful feeling of  losing control of their car when they hit a patch of ice or when their tires just can’t get a grip on a snowy road. Even in bad Illinois weather, we still have to get to work and have places to go, which means sometimes having to drive on icy or snow-covered roads. When someone loses control of their car due to the weather, it is easy to blame the weather conditions for causing the accident. After all, far more accidents happen right after a snowstorm or on days when we have had freezing rain and ice. Black ice is especially dangerous because of how hard it is to see.  Ice forms fast on Chicago roads because of how close we are to Lake Michigan and the wind chill factors that develop.

Is the car accident my fault if snow or ice caused me to lose control?

Legally, fault for a car accident cannot be placed on the weather. All drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable caution once they get behind the wheel and can still be found at fault for a car accident, even if they hit a patch of ice and the car skids. The reasoning is that everyone must drive even more carefully in winter weather. This means slowing down and may even mean that cars should be slowing to a crawl if that is what it takes to keep everyone safe. We’ve all heard the expression “driving too fast for conditions”. Everyone needs to go slower when roads are slick. The same hold true for rain and freezing rain. In bad weather, drivers should also keep a further distance between their car and the car in front of them. Headlights should be turned on and extra care taken. If your car slides on ice or you cannot brake well in the snow and this causes an accident, you could be held responsible for driving too fast for the weather or not keeping a safe distance.

What if there were multiple cars involved?

Black ice, blizzards and otherwise snowy and icy roads often cause multi-car crashes. Fault can be even harder to pinpoint in multi-car crashes and more than one driver might be at fault. Fault for an accident is not always clear cut and even if you suspect that you may not be blameless for causing an accident, do not admit fault until you discuss the facts of how it happened with an attorney. Even if you were partially at fault, you might still be able to bring a claim against another driver if you or one of your passengers got hurt and if the other driver was also at fault.

What should I do if I was hurt in an accident during bad weather?

The advice on what to do is the same for all car accidents, regardless of weather conditions. Do not leave the scene, seek medical attention if you were hurt, speak to the police, report the accident to your insurance, and do not talk to the other person’s insurance company without first talking to a lawyer. Avoid common mistakes made by accident victims and give us a call at 630 250-8813 to discuss the facts surrounding your accident with an attorney and get advice specific to the circumstances.

Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Injury & Accidents, Disability Insurance.