By: Michael B. Murphy, QC, Senior Partner
There are driving circumstances in the winter that do not exist in the summer. One such circumstance is a whiteout. Another is black ice. And a third is snow all over your vehicle obstructing your view.
If you are approaching a whiteout in your vehicle and you go into it and rear-end another vehicle you can be held partially or fully responsible for the accident. It is advisable to slow down. If a whiteout happens upon you as you are driving then you should slow down, put your 4-way flashers on and if possible, pull over to the farthest right-hand portion of the road.
If you slide on black ice, there is a defense of inevitable accident. So, if you slide across the road on black ice that you had no idea would be there (nor could not have reasonably believed it would be) the opposing vehicle may not have an action against you. This inevitable accident defense rarely succeeds but is does exist.
Finally, if you do not clean off your car fully and your view is obstructed, and you have an accident then you will be held liable unless there is not a connection whatsoever to the cause of the accident.
The lack of snow tires in and of itself is an act of negligence. Did that act of negligence however contribute to the cause of the accident in whole or part? If you are driving on an icy highway and a car comes across and hits you then the fact that you had summer tires on is of no consequence. However, if you see a car that is crossing the highway a great distance in front of you and you would normally have stopped in a safe distance with winter tires, but you continued to slide because of summer tires, then you may be in part responsible for that accident.
There are many other aspects to winter driving that make it much different from summer driving vis à vis responsibility for the accident. Reach out today to chat about your specific accident and we can help you determine if you have a case or not.
DISCLAIMER: The publications on this website are intended to provide information of a general nature and not legal advice. The information contained in this publication is current to the date of the publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.