Living in Chicago, winter weather is something that cannot be avoided. Every year, as the snow begins to fall, the roads become hazardous and winter-related car accidents occur. Some of these crashes are due solely to the weather or to the conditions of the roads and cannot be avoided, but in many cases, the accidents are only in part caused by the weather. Often, a driver is traveling too fast for conditions, following too closely, or otherwise acting in a negligent manner, which leads to a collision and potentially, injuries.
In the event that a driver is negligent when behind the wheel and causes another person to become injured, the laws in Chicago and in Illinois may entitle the victim to pursue a claim for compensation against the responsible driver. These claims can provide a victim with the means to seek and pay for needed medical treatment as well as compensation for pain and suffering and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
Determining whether a collision was the fault of another driver or just merely an accident can be difficult. Local police may make a determination and issue a citation to a driver who caused a crash, but even if no tickets are issued, a driver may still have been negligent and may still be legally responsible to the accident’s victims. Speaking with an injury lawyer is a good place to start when trying to understand your legal rights after a crash.
Factors that Contribute to Winter Weather Accidents
Regardless of what time of year a crash occurs, in most cases, more than one factor mixes together to create a situation where a car accident occurs. The potential factors that can lead to a crash in winter are the same as those present at all other times but poor weather allows even more factors to come into play. Whether the roads are icy, snowy, or just wet, the weather can make a significant impact and can aggravate other factors, including:
- Visibility – In the winter months, snow falling can obscure visibility of drivers, restricting a motorist’s ability to see far into the distance, including traffic, potential hazards, or even an accident in front of them. Snow and ice can accumulate on a car’s windows and windshields as well, potentially causing a decrease in visibility for those in a vehicle. Attempting to drive with low visibility means that a driver will have less time to see and respond to changing conditions, increasing the odds that an accident will occur.
- Stopping Distance – Poor weather means that cars need more distance to slow or come to a stop than they do at other times. Snow and ice on the road can cause tires to slip and slide, decreasing the traction between the tire and the road and causing the car to take longer to stop. If a driver ignores the need for additional stopping distance, the driver may not be able to bring the vehicle to a standstill in time for a turning car ahead in traffic or a red light, potentially leading to a collision.
- Speed – Similarly to stopping distance, the appropriate speed for traveling in winter weather is different than it may be during the warm, summer months. Speed is believed to be a factor in nearly 50 percent of all accidents nationally, including those that happen during the winter months. Traveling faster than advisable during the winter can lead a driver to lose control of a vehicle, potentially spinning out, striking another vehicle, or even leaving the road’s surface.
- Black Ice – Black ice is a common phrase used to describe a layer of ice on a road that may be difficult or impossible to see before a driver encounters the area. It gets its name because the road surface can be seen through the ice, and when the road is made of asphalt, it appears black. Black ice can emerge quickly and without any warning, putting drivers in a dangerous situation where they may lose traction or may have difficulty controlling their cars.
When it comes to driving in the winter, the best thing you can do is be prepared for the weather and to make adjustments to your driving in response. Leave early so that you are not rushing to your location and make sure you do not drive too fast for conditions. Consider leaving extra stopping distance between your car and the car in front of you or between your car and an intersection. In the event you encounter snow or ice on the roads, slow down and be mindful that your tires may not be able to grip the road’s surface as well as normal, causing slippery conditions for you and everyone in your car.
If you drive in Chicago in the wintertime, keep that in mind when purchasing a new or used vehicle. As some vehicles handle the snow better than others, it is a good idea to keep winter driving in mind when shopping for a car. Also, consider using snow tires in the winter months and keeping a shovel and sand or salt in your car in case you become stuck while driving.
Winter Accident Lawyers in Chicago
Even if you are driving as safe as possible, you are still at the mercy of the weather and of the other drivers on the road. If you have been involved in an accident that occurred during winter driving conditions and you were injured, you may be entitled to bring a claim for your damages against the responsible driver. This can be true if you were in the same car as the at-fault driver or another car.
The attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. are here to help accident victims who have been injured. We offer all victims a free consultation at (855) LAW-CHICAGO (529-2442) or (312) 924-7575 and we are standing by 24 hours a day to take your call. There is no obligation on your part for speaking with us and all matters related to your accident will be discussed in a confidential manner.
If a winter accident has left you hurt, make sure you have someone on your side, fighting for your rights. Call our legal team today and let us help you pursue a recovery you deserve.
If you have been hurt in a winter weather accident, call us at (855) LAW-CHICAGO or Contact Us online now for a free consultation.