WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WINTER DRIVING ACCIDENTS
Jan. 19, 2021
Even on the nicest day, people can get into car accidents. There will always be drivers on the road who aren’t paying attention and driving recklessly, as well as safe drivers who may have an accident through no fault of their own. When you add winter weather to the mix, you’re now at a greater risk of accidents due to snow, ice, and poor visibility.
If you’ve recently been in an accident where winter conditions were a factor, it’s likely that your insurance claim will be handled differently and it could affect your settlement. I’ve been proud to help clients throughout Massachusetts for over 30 years as they navigate their accident claims, and I can help you, too. Call me today to talk about your options. I’ve established my practice, the Law Office of James A. Maniatis, in three locations to serve my community in Southborough, Webster, and Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
MASSACHUSETTS IS A NO-FAULT STATE
After all car accidents, both drivers’ insurance companies will be notified to start determining who will pay damages. In some cases, the at-fault driver will be responsible for paying damages; however, Massachusetts is a no-fault state, meaning your insurance will pay out damages through your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) no matter who is found liable. This can be helpful to receive aid immediately, but it can fall short of covering all your expenses. People often find they have to file a personal injury claim to cover all their damages.
LIABILITY FOR WEATHER-RELATED NEGLIGENT BEHAVIOR
Unfortunately, reckless drivers are around no matter what the weather is, but during severe winter weather, their negligent behavior can cause even more accidents. One of the biggest culprits of winter weather accidents is excessive speed. If the roads are blocked with snow or ice, all drivers should slow down, even if it means going under the speed limit. Remember, the posted speed limit is for dry, clear conditions, and the law states you should go a speed that’s “reasonable and proper.” This means you can be cited for speeding, even if you’re traveling under the speed limit.
Other drivers may drive carelessly in winter weather and not take the extra precautions they should. This could mean they’re following too closely and aren’t giving themselves enough time to safely slow down and stop. Or, they may have failed to prepare their car for safe driving by scraping off snow and ice. In inclement weather, this would be considered careless or reckless driving, and if an accident occurs, you may be liable.
Anytime you're driving in ice and snow, you should take extra precautions to ensure safety for yourself and those around you. Many of these precautions are common sense, even if they’re not required by law. Massachusetts doesn't have a chain law requiring studded tires or chains (except on triple axle trucks); however, there is a minimum for tire tread depths of 2/32 inches.
TIPS FOR DRIVING IN WINTER WEATHER
In addition to making sure your vehicle is winter weather-ready, you also need to adjust the way you drive to account for the hazardous conditions. Follow these safety tips:
When possible, stay home and limit travel in inclement weather.
Clear snow and ice from all surfaces of your car including windows, hood, roof, and headlights.
Leave more room between you and the car in front of you to allow for longer stopping time.
Maintain at least a half tank of gas.
“Don’t crowd the plow!” Give snowplows plenty of space and don’t attempt to pass them.
EXPERIENCED MASSACHUSETTS PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
Even the best drivers will sometimes find themselves in an accident, and these odds increase in winter conditions. If you’ve been in a car accident, the insurance adjuster will take into account if road conditions were made worse by snow and ice, but they also may try to prove the driver acted negligently given the circumstances. In any case, talking with a personal injury attorney can help you understand your options.
Call the Law Office of James A. Maniatis today for a consultation if you’re in the Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, area including Southborough, Webster, Westborough, Northborough, Grafton, Boylston, Millbury, Upton, Dudley, or Oxford.