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Can Drivers be Held Liable for Failing to Prepare Their Cars for Winter Driving?

scraping ice on windshieldWinter can be a dangerous time to drive, as you can encounter snowy or icy conditions that make it harder to avoid a collision.

Drivers involved in winter car crashes may say there was nothing that they could do to avoid a crash. This might not always be true, though. Their negligence may have contributed to the crash. For example, they may have been speeding or violating the other driver’s right of way with snow or ice just making it worse.

In some cases, the at-fault driver's car was not prepared for winter weather. For example, if the at-fault driver was driving on underinflated tires or had old windshield wipers. If you get injured in a crash during the wintertime and are unsure about your legal options, give us a call. The initial legal consultation with a Bloomington-based auto accident lawyer is free and comes with no obligation to hire our firm. We also charge no upfront fees.  

TSR Injury Law. Call today: (612) TSR-TIME.

Preparing Cars for Winter Driving

Driving during the winter can be dangerous for many reasons. For example, your tires could lose traction on an icy roadway, causing you to lose control and crash into another vehicle or a fixed object.

That is why drivers need to make sure their vehicles are prepared before they go out on the road. Some of the vehicle components they need to check include the following:

Tires

Drivers need to make sure their tires are fully inflated. Underinflated tires can make it harder to control a vehicle. If your tires remain underinflated for too long, it could reduce their lifespan.

Overinflated tires are at higher risk for a blowout. This can be incredibly dangerous no matter what time of year. A tire blowout on a snowy or icy road could be even more dangerous.

You can inflate your tires yourself or take your car to a qualified mechanic to do it for you. If you go to a mechanic who regularly works on your car, he or she may inflate your tires for free. A mechanic can also inspect the treads on your tires to ensure they are not too worn down.

If you regularly encounter heavy snow or slippery roads, you should switch to snow tires.

Windshield Wipers

Another reasonable step drivers can take to prepare their cars for winter is making sure their windshield wipers are not too worn down. Old windshield wipers will not clear away snow or rain effectively, impairing visibility. This could make a crash much more likely to occur.

You can buy new windshield wipers or buy a set of winter windshield wiper blades. These are designed to clear away snow and prevent snow or ice from getting stuck on the blade.  

Headlights and Taillights

Drivers need to make sure their headlights and taillights work. If your headlights do not work, or they do not work as well as they should, your visibility may be impaired. Ensuring the bulbs work and cleaning the lenses is also important.

Engine Oil

The oil in your engine loses viscosity in colder temperatures. This means your engine might not be properly lubricated. This could lead to a breakdown. This could happen at the wrong time, such as while your car is in motion which could cause a crash  

You could switch to a winter-grade oil to help your engine continue to function at a high level.

Removing Snow or Ice From Your Vehicle

Drivers need to remove snow and ice from their vehicles before driving. Otherwise, snow or ice could fall off and cause another driver to get into a crash. Sometimes the crash that occurs only involves one vehicle. For example, ice may cause another driver to veer off the road and hit a tree or road sign. That said, another driver would still be liable for damages from the crash.

Building a Case for Poor Vehicle Maintenance

Drivers could be held liable for a crash that resulted from poor maintenance of their vehicle. Your lawyer needs to prove the crash was avoidable had the at-fault driver done a better job of maintaining his or her vehicle.

Your lawyer needs to thoroughly investigate the crash to determine what happened and work backward from that. For example, if the victim was rear-ended, your attorney must figure out what happened. Often the rear driver in a rear-end crash was distracted, speeding or following the lead vehicle too closely.

However, sometimes a rear-end crash is due to old tires that could not gain enough traction on the road. This may be more likely to happen in the winter because of ice or snow on the road, or because tires were old or underinflated. One way to think about it is the weather combined with the driver’s negligence is the reason for the crash. However, the weather cannot be held liable for a crash.

Pictures of the at-fault driver’s tires may be enough to show they were old and should have been replaced. For example, pictures may show the treads were worn down to an unsafe level. The sidewalls of tires also say when the tires were made. If the tires were old, it may be easier to assign fault to the driver for not replacing the tires.

If the lead driver’s broken taillights caused the crash, your lawyer may look to see if the lead driver had been cited by police for a broken taillight. If the driver had been cited, this is proof he or she knew about the problem and did not get it fixed. If a driver legitimately did not know about the broken taillight, it may be harder to assign fault to him or her. That said, it would be difficult for the at-fault driver to prove he or she did not know.

Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Crash

If you were injured because of another driver’s negligence we might be able to assist you in pursuing compensation for your damages.

Our firm takes cases on contingency, which means there are no upfront fees or legal obligations with our services. That means no fees before taking your case and no fees while pursuing compensation.

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