In this article, we detail measures to take following a snow-related accident. From assessing the scene to contacting authorities, understanding the right course of action can make a considerable difference in the aftermath of a snow-related collision.
What is a snow-related accident?
A snow-related accident can be either a vehicle- or non-vehicle-related mishap resulting from adverse weather conditions such as snow and ice. Snow can contribute to slippery road surfaces, reducing traction and increasing the likelihood of a collision. Non-vehicle-related snow accidents involve slips, trips, and falls. Icy sidewalks and snow-covered walkways can pose significant hazards, especially for pedestrians.
Snow-related accident statistics
The following are some statistics from the Federal Highway Administration related to snow-related accidents in the United States:
- Annually, icy driving conditions cause over 150,000 car accidents and lead to more than 1,700 deaths.
- Approximately 24% of all weather-related car crashes occur on slushy, icy, or snowy roads.
Different types of snow-related accidents
A slip-and-fall accident occurs when people unintentionally fall and injure themselves by slipping or tripping on icy or snowy surfaces. These incidents often happen in winter when surfaces become slippery, posing risks to pedestrians on sidewalks, driveways, or outdoor areas.
In winter, navigating snow-covered roads can become challenging, increasing the likelihood of collisions due to slippery conditions. Reduced traction on icy surfaces makes it challenging for drivers to control their vehicles, resulting in accidents. Factors such as poor visibility, black ice, and drivers’ inability to adjust to changing road conditions contribute to the elevated risk of car accidents during snowy weather. Distractions, coupled with the challenges of navigating wintry conditions, amplify the likelihood of accidents.
Winter sports accidents
Accidents can occur during activities such as skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating. A certain degree of risk is associated with these activities because of the inherent nature of these sports. Factors such as high speeds, challenging terrains, and unpredictable weather conditions contribute to the risk. A seemingly benign and innocuous snowball fight can result in severe injuries as well. Wearing appropriate protective gear and adhering to safety guidelines are crucial for minimizing the potential for winter-sports-related accidents.
Accidents due to snow accumulation
Inadequate or lack of snow removal can result in considerable accumulation of ice and snow, creating hazardous conditions such as roof collapse, electricity outages, and pipe bursts. If left unchecked for extended periods, the weight of accumulated snow and ice can cause structural damage to a building and injure inhabitants. Continuous snow on power lines can down electric poles, leading to outages. In such cases, a risk of electrocution also exists. Heating can be cut off in homes. Snow accumulation around water pipes can result in frozen pipes and drains, which can burst when the pressure inside the pipe builds up over time.
Steps to take immediately after a snow-related accident
Snow-related accidents can be disorienting, but it’s crucial to stay calm and take the following steps immediately to ensure your safety:
Stay calm and check for injuries
Take a deep breath and compose yourself. It’s natural to feel shaken after an accident, but staying calm helps you think clearly and make good decisions. Assess yourself and others for injuries. If injuries are minor, then move away from the site of the accident to a safe place. In case of a severe injury or trauma, wait for medical personnel to reach out to you.
Seek medical help
Call emergency medical services immediately and provide them accurate information about the location, the number of people involved, and the nature of the injuries.
Gather evidence and witnesses
The following information can prove valuable in case of subsequent litigation or claims:
- Document the conditions of the surroundings: Take notes or photos to document the weather and road conditions. This information can provide accurate context for the accident.
- Collect contact details of witnesses: Collect the names and contact information of individuals who witnessed the accident. They can provide testimony if needed.
- Record videos and photograph the accident site: Use your phone to capture images and videos of the accident scene, damages, and any contributing factors.
- Report the accident to the police: Contact local law enforcement to report the accident. A copy of the police report can be used as a record of the accident.
Consult a personal injury attorney
There are legal experts who specialize in navigating the complexities of personal injury cases, including those arising from incidents in winter conditions. A personal injury attorney assesses the circumstances surrounding the accident, evaluates the extent of your injuries, determines liability, and can provide invaluable assistance in helping you understand your legal rights and options.
Tips to prevent snow-related accidents
Here are some essential measures to follow for preventing snow-related accidents:
- Wear shoes with proper grip: Increased friction with the surface when walking can prevent falls. Choose footwear with nonslippery soles to improve traction on icy surfaces. Use shoes specially designed for walking on snow during winter.
- Take shorter steps and avoid running: Running in snow and ice is dangerous and can result in injuries. Minimize the risk of slipping by adjusting your walking stride and walking slowly. Take short steps.
- Use handrails: Grab or lean onto handrails for stability whenever possible.
- Avoid distractions: Stay attentive and avoid distractions such as phones while walking. Check for updates on your phones before you start with your walk or after reaching your destination.
- Walk on cleared sidewalks: Walk on cleared paths and sidewalks. Avoiding a snowy or icy path is prudent.
- Maintain vehicles: Ensure your vehicle is winter ready. Check that brakes are functioning. Engine oil, brake oil, steering oil, and antifreeze fluids levels should be optimum.
- Use winter-appropriate tires: Use winter-appropriate grooved tires made of special rubber for improved road grip. In case of heavy snowfall, use snow chains that fit over tires to provide better traction on snow-covered roads.
- Drive at reduced speed: Drive at a safe and slow speed, especially in snowy or icy conditions. Regardless of the urgency, avoid speeding in snow.
- Ensure safe distance: Inclement weather can cause the automobile in front to stop without warning. Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front to avoid rear-end accidents.
- Keep an emergency kit: Keep an emergency kit in your car with essentials such as a blanket, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a snow shovel, and a first-aid kit. Nonperishable snacks and water can be a lifesaver if you are stranded in snow for long hours.
- When walking, be cautious crossing roads: Use designated crosswalks to cross roads. This ensures enhanced visibility for drivers.
Winter sports accidents
- Wear protective gear: Use appropriate safety gear, including helmets and padding, when engaging in winter sports.
- Stay cognizant of surroundings: Stay alert to your surroundings and potential hazards.
- Follow safety guidelines: Adhere to established safety guidelines and rules for each winter sport. Ensure snowball fights remain playful and do not get out of hand.
Snow accumulation accidents
- Report incidences of heavy snowfall to local authorities: Notify local authorities about areas with heavy snow accumulation.
- Community awareness: Promote awareness within the community about the importance of proper snow removal.
- Exercise caution: Exercise caution when navigating areas with heavy snow accumulation to avoid accidents. Clear snow periodically from roofs. In case of power outages, keep yourself warm. Avoid touching electric poles.
What is a snow-related accident?
A snow-related accident refers to incidents occurring as a result of adverse winter weather conditions. In vehicle-related cases, it may involve collisions, skidding, or pile-ups due to slippery roads and reduced visibility. Non-vehicle-related incidents can include slips, trips, and falls on icy surfaces or accidents caused by snow accumulation on structures.
What should I do immediately after a slip-and-fall accident in icy conditions?
After a slip-and-fall accident, prioritize your safety. Assess injuries and seek medical attention if needed. Report the incident to the property owner or relevant authorities. Document the scene, gather witness information, and photograph the scene if possible.
How can I prevent slip-and-fall accidents during winter?
To prevent slip-and-fall accidents, wear appropriate footwear with good traction, take slow and deliberate steps, and use handrails. Keep walkways clear of snow and ice, and use ice melt or sand for traction.
What should I do immediately after a car accident on snowy roads?
Check for injuries and call emergency services if needed. Exchange information with other parties involved, document the scene, and report the incident to the police.
How can I prepare my car for winter driving?
Ensure your car has winter tires for enhanced traction, and stock it with essentials such as an ice scraper, snow shovel, and emergency kit for safe winter driving. Keep some nonperishable food in your car. Ensure proper visibility with functioning lights and wipers.
What should I do if I skid on icy roads?
If you skid on icy roads, steer slowly in the direction you want to go, avoid sudden movements, and gently apply the brakes. Stay calm.
How can individuals report inadequate snow removal issues?
Individuals can report inadequate snow removal issues through various channels. One common method is to contact local authorities, such as the city or county public works department. Additionally, many cities have official websites or mobile applications that allow users to report snow-related concerns.
What safety gear is essential for winter sports?
Essential safety gear for winter sports includes helmets, appropriate clothing, goggles, gloves, and padding. Ensure gear is in good condition and fits properly for optimal protection.
Is it important to report a snow-related accident to the police?
Reporting a snow-related accident to the police is important for documentation and legal purposes. It helps establish an official record of the incident, facilitating insurance claims and investigations into the causes of the accident.