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Who’s at Fault for Black Ice Accidents?

Though Spring is just around the corner, there is still plenty of time for bad winter weather to descend and wreak havoc on the roadways. And one pesky winter issue that can be especially problematic for drivers and cause bad car accidents in Indiana is black ice.

What is Black Ice?

Black ice is a bit of a misnomer, as it technically refers to ice that is transparent, not black. The reason for its name is that this type of ice is so clear that it is nearly invisible and blends in with the black asphalt of the road that it sits on.

This type of ice forms when there is light freezing rain or when ice or snow melts and then refreezes on hard surfaces—primarily roadways and sidewalks. When this happens, there are no bubbles or blemishes in the ice, which allows it to blend in with the road, making it difficult to detect.

For this reason, black ice can commonly be the cause of accidents in the wintertime. It can be an issue for pedestrians walking on the sidewalks, but it can also be problematic for cars. Drivers can have an even harder time than pedestrians detecting black ice, as they are not able to get a close look at the pavement before it is too late, and their car is already sliding and losing control.

Is Black Ice an At-Fault Accident?

Because black ice is so difficult to see and prepare for, many drivers think that it is not their fault if they lose control of their car and get into an accident as a result of black ice. Unfortunately, you cannot reasonably blame the weather for an accident.

Legally speaking, drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with care, which means taking extra precautions during winter when there is snow and ice on the roads. So if you were driving too fast considering the weather conditions or following too closely behind another driver when your car slid on the ice and caused an accident, you will likely be liable.

However, there are instances where another party could be to blame for the accident. If another driver or another third-party acted negligently in any way that contributed to the black ice accident, then you may be able to file a claim against them to recover compensation for damages.

Who Can Be Held Liable for a Black Ice Car Accident?

Liability for black ice accidents comes down to that party that was negligent. Again, if you are the one whose car skidded on the black ice and caused the accident because you weren’t driving carefully enough, then you will likely be the one held liable.

It is possible for other parties, however, to be found negligent.

  • Other drivers can be held liable if they were speeding, driving aggressively, or acting in any other negligent manner.
  • Property owners could be held liable if your car skidded on black ice on their property. However, the property owner needs to have known about the black ice and have failed to take care of the issue for you to hold them liable.
  • Local municipalities could also be held responsible if they failed to maintain the roadways, such as by salting them or failing to clear away black ice that they knew was building up and causing a problem.

How is Fault Determined for Black Ice Accidents?

When you are involved in a black ice accident, your best course of action is to consult with an attorney. Determining fault in these cases can be tricky, and it may be hard to remove the blame from yourself without professional legal help.

In most cases, the more evidence you can provide to show what happened, the better. Your attorney can work with you to help you gather this evidence to build a strong case that ensures the right party is held accountable for the black ice accident.

Such evidence that can support your black ice car accident claim and help determine fault can include:

  • Police reports
  • Accident reconstruction reports
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Photos from the scene of the accident
  • Video surveillance footage of the accident

Tips for Avoiding Black Ice Accidents

When it comes to black ice accidents, your best way to avoid them is to drive cautiously during times when there are freezing temperatures. You should especially be mindful if you know that there was previously water or snow in an area that might have melted and then refrozen.

Additional tips include:

  • Driving slower, even under the speed limit if necessary when there is snow and ice on the roads
  • Increasing your following distance behind other vehicles
  • Ease off the gas pedal if your car does begin to slide
  • If your car skids, steer in the direction that you need the front of your car to go
  • Keep headlights on even during the day to increase visibility
  • Keep your tires filled with air as good tire pressure helps with traction on ice

Consult an Indianapolis Personal Injury Lawyer

If you are involved in a black ice accident this winter, the team of Indianapolis car accident lawyers at Crossen Law Firm can help. We understand the unique challenge that black ice cases present and can offer you guidance and support to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

To schedule a free consultation with our reliable team, dial (317) 401-8626 today. Or contact us online.