When the temperatures plummet and winter descends on Idaho, driving your vehicle safely in the snow becomes quite a challenge. What makes driving in the snow so exceedingly dangerous?
And while you can’t sue the weather – or the weatherman – do you have any legal recourse if you are injured in a traffic accident, and the primary cause of the accident was snow? Can a Hayden car accident lawyer help?
WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN THE WINTER ON IDAHO’S HIGHWAYS?
Just last month – January 2019 – severe snow, icy conditions, and more than forty collisions in a single morning resulted major slowdowns and congestion on Interstate 84 between Caldwell and Boise. And that’s only one of many similar incidents this winter in Idaho.
A recent study conducted by the security and safety company SafeWise ranks Idaho as one of the most dangerous states for driving in the snow. Only Wyoming, Vermont, and Montana are more dangerous – statistically – for driving in the snow.
Why is driving in the snow so dangerous? One reason is because the ground warms more slowly than the air, so ice may still be on the roads even after the air temperature rises above the freezing level.
WHAT KIND OF DRIVING PROBLEMS CAN BE CAUSED BY SNOW AND ICE?
Surface ice on paved roads can prevent your tires from getting a sufficient grip on the pavement, and it can make steering or stopping difficult – and in some cases literally impossible.
Black ice is a thin ice layer that forms on a roadway. It makes the road appear wet rather than icy. Black ice typically appears at night or in the early morning hours. Many motorists do not even notice black ice – until they lose control and crash.
Snow can also substantially reduce a driver’s visibility and even create “whiteout” conditions that reduce visibility to zero.
HOW CAN YOU PREPARE YOUR VEHICLE FOR DRIVING IN THE SNOW?
By driving cautiously – and by having your vehicle “winterized” – you can reduce your chances of being involved in a snow-or-ice-related collision.
Here are some suggestions for winterizing your vehicle:
- Ensure that your brakes, heater, defroster, lights, and exhaust system work properly.
- Replace your wiper blades.
- Inspect your tires. Carry snow chains or consider snow tires.
- Get an oil change and make sure the oil will hold up in cold weather.
- Test your battery. If it’s over three years old, consider purchasing a new one.
- Be sure that your antifreeze is a 50/50 blend: half antifreeze, half water.
- Keep emergency supplies – including a flashlight and a first-aid kit – in your vehicle.
CAN YOU REDUCE THE CHANCES OF A SNOW-AND-ICE-RELATED CRASH?
After you’ve taken these precautions and you’re on the road, here are some recommendations for safe winter driving:
- Always have enough stopping distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
- Carry your phone, just in case.
- Check your speed: If the weather’s anything other than beautiful, drive a little slower.
- Don’t slam your brakes on snow or ice: In these conditions, drive slow and brake slowly.
- Don’t use cruise control: On a slippery surface, you need to be in full control.
- Give yourself plenty of time: Trips may take longer in winter weather.
- Keep your windows and windshield clear, and carry a snow brush or scraper.
Of course, when winter storm warnings are issued and weather conditions are dangerous, if it’s possible, stay where you are and don’t drive anywhere.
HOW ARE SOME DRIVERS NEGLIGENT IN SNOW-AND-ICE CONDITIONS?
Most drivers in Idaho take most of the safety precautions listed above, but if a motorist fails to slow down because of snow or ice, that driver can be held liable for injuries and damages if an accident happens.
A driver involved in an ice-and-snow-related crash may also be held liable for:
- a failure to clear ice and snow from the vehicle’s windshield and windows
- a failure to brake slowly and carefully
- aggressive or reckless driving
Of course, no one can control the weather, and even the most careful driver cannot control the actions of other drivers. What happens if you are injured in a traffic accident in Idaho because another motorist was driving negligently in bad weather conditions?
HOW CAN A CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY HELP YOU?
If you’re injured because another driver was negligent, it’s imperative to discuss your legal rights and options immediately with an experienced Hayden auto collision attorney. Injured victims of negligence are entitled to full compensation for their medical bills and related losses.
A good personal injury lawyer will launch an immediate investigation into every aspect of your accident and injury. Your attorney will consider the physical evidence and the medical and police reports, question any witnesses, and negotiate for the compensation you need and deserve.
Idaho is a “fault” state for automobile insurance coverage, so if you are injured by a negligent driver, you will be dealing with that driver’s auto insurance company, so you must have a traffic crash lawyer’s help.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE OTHER DRIVER’S INSURANCE COMPANY?
In fact, see an attorney first. If you are the injured victim of a negligent driver, any statement you make to that driver’s auto insurance company could be twisted and used against you. You need to be able to refer that insurance company – when it contacts you – to your attorney.
A good personal injury attorney will have plenty of experience negotiating with insurance companies. Your lawyer understands the tactics that insurance companies use and knows how to prevail on your behalf in negotiations with an insurance company.
If you’ve been severely injured or permanently disabled because of another driver’s negligence, you are going to need the maximum available compensation amount, and you are also going to need an attorney who knows what it takes to obtain that amount for you.
HOW ARE MOST CAR CRASH INJURY CLAIMS RESOLVED IN IDAHO?
Most personal injury cases in Idaho are settled out-of-court, so it’s quite rare when an injured victim of negligence is required to make a court appearance. Traffic collision lawyers work on a contingent fee basis, so you pay no attorney’s fee until your attorney obtains your compensation.
Driving in Idaho’s ice and snow is serious business that requires a driver’s absolute and complete attention. If you are injured because another driver caused an accident in ice-and-snow driving conditions, take your case at once to a reliable injury attorney.
A good lawyer’s help is your right. In fact, if you’ve been injured, your health and future could depend on it. But if you’ve been injured, you must take the first step to exercise that right – and make the call to an experienced Hayden personal injury attorney.