During the winter months, Indiana receives a great deal of cold weather and freezing precipitation. Although there’s much to love about winter, the weather conditions can cause serious car accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 24% of all weather-related wrecks occur because of ice, snow, or slush on the road.
If you wreck because of winter road conditions, you may wonder if you’ll be considered at fault by your insurance company. In this blog, we discuss winter road conditions and how insurance companies determine fault in winter-weather wrecks.
Dangerous Road Conditions in Indiana
The winter months bring many different road hazards that can increase your likelihood of experiencing a car accident. Dangerous elements caused by the winter weather include:
- Black ice
- Heavy Winds
The different winter hazards can seriously impact your ability to see the road, and the wet and icy roads can debilitate your ability to stop your vehicle quickly. Tragically, icy road conditions result in thousands of car accidents every year, resulting in hundreds of fatalities. If you need to drive during harsh winter conditions, you need to drive as safely as possible, reduce your speed, and avoid following too closely to other vehicles.
Determining Liability in a Winter Accident
When it comes to determining fault in wintertime accidents, insurance companies will evaluate the actions of each driver involved. For example, if someone rear-ended another driver because of ice, that doesn’t mean that they’ll avoid being found at fault. Someone needs to be held accountable for the wreck, and even if bad road conditions were a factor, you’ll still be found at fault if you broke your duty of care.
Duty of care is the duty that drivers have to others on the road to operate their vehicles safely and maintain control over them. It’s the driver’s responsibility to operate their vehicle safely to avoid wrecks during dangerous weather conditions. For example, if there’s ice on the road, it’s the driver’s responsibility to reduce their speed in order to avoid sliding on the ice and wrecking into another vehicle.
Insurance companies will hold the driver who caused the accident at fault regardless of the weather conditions. Factors that may determine who was at fault for the wreck include:
- Driving at an unsafe speed considering the weather
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Following other cars too closely
- Driving while distracted
- Failing to maintain your vehicle properly
- Reckless driving
- Driving while tired
- Driving without your lights on
- Driving without proper windshield wipers
Proving the Other Driver Was Negligent
In Indiana, drivers need to be able to prove that the other driver was at fault in order to receive compensation for medical bills, vehicle damages, and more. Some the evidence that you can use to prove that a driver was at fault include:
- Eyewitness accounts: If there were witnesses to the accident, you can use their statements as evidence against the negligent driver. After experiencing a wreck, you should collect as many eyewitness statements as possible if you’re physically able. You should also collect their names and contact information.
- Photographs: If you’re physically able, you should use your smartphone to take numerous pictures of the scene of the accident at many different angles. You should ensure to take pictures of every vehicle involved, the damages they sustained, and the road conditions at the time of the wreck. Skid marks on the road may provide proof that the other driver was at fault.
- Cell phone records: Cell phone records can prove that a negligent driver was talking on the phone or texting at the time of the accident. Even talking on a phone using Bluetooth or another hands-free device can be dangerous because it’s a mental distraction.
- Toxicology results: If the police arrive at the scene and suspect that a driver is under the influence, they will likely test the person’s breath, urine, and blood. Lab results that indicate the driver was under the influence at the time of the wreck can support your claim.
- Black box data: Black box data tracks vehicle speeds and braking. Not every vehicle has black box data, but commercial vehicles often record this data.
Contact an Indiana Car Wreck Lawyer to Prove Your Claim
If you’re planning on filing a claim against the person responsible for your wreck, you need legal experts to help you through the process. A seasoned car accident lawyer can help you gather evidence against the negligent party to prove your claim. They can also help you maximize the amount you’ll receive for vehicle damages, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and more.
For Indiana legal experts you can count on, contact Crossen Law Firm. We have years of experience assisting Indiana residents with car accidents and personal injuries, and we’ll work with you to ensure you hold the liable driver responsible for your wreck. Call our office at 317-401-8626. Additionally, you can contact us online here.