Adverse conditions, such as slippery roads and inclement weather, cause many accidents in the winter. In this guide, we outline the key actions you should consider after a winter car accident, including how to ensure the safety of all parties, gather essential information, and navigate the insurance and legal aspects of any damages claim you might have.
What is a winter car accident?
A winter car accident refers to a traffic accident that occurs during the winter season, typically due to adverse weather conditions such as snow, ice, sleet, or freezing rain. These accidents involve various types of vehicles, including cars, trucks, and buses, and result in vehicle damage, injuries, or even fatalities. Various factors, including slippery road surfaces, reduced visibility, and difficulty controlling vehicles, can contribute to winter car accidents.
Winter car accident statistics
- According to data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), more than 150,000 auto crashes occur annually due to icy roads.
- According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), braking on snowy roads is 10 times slower than in normal conditions.
- Over 1,800 people die each year in car crashes due to driving in snowy and icy conditions.
- Approximately 70% of the population in the United States lives in places that have snowy and icy conditions during the winter.
- Approximately 17% of vehicle crashes occur in snowy conditions.
Immediate actions to take after a winter car accident
The following steps are essential to protect your well-being and facilitate any insurance claims or legal actions you might pursue:
- Stay calm and check for injuries: After a car accident, it’s crucial to stay calm. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If anyone is seriously injured, do not move them unless there’s immediate danger such as a fire. Wait for medical professionals.
- Maintain personal safety and security: If your vehicle is not completely immobilized, safely move your vehicle to the side of the road or a sidewalk to prevent further accidents. Turn on hazard lights to convey that your vehicle is at a standstill.
- Call 911: Dial emergency services immediately to report the accident. Provide information about the location and number of any injured individuals. Follow their instructions and let them know if any hazardous materials are involved.
- Exchange information: Exchange the following information with the other party involved in the collision:
- Full names and contact information
- Insurance company and policy numbers
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers
- Vehicle details, such as type, color, and model
- Document the accident: All aspects of the accident should be thoroughly documented as follows:
- Photograph the accident scene, vehicle damage, license plates, and any relevant road signs or conditions that may have contributed to the accident.
- Write down the names and addresses of all parties involved and any injured passengers.
- Speak to any witnesses, and if possible, collect their contact information.
- Request a copy of the accident report from the police.
Tips to prevent winter car accidents
As far as possible, avoid traveling or driving in inclement and severe conditions. However, if travel cannot be avoided, adhere to the following precautions to avoid accidents:
- Drive at reduced speeds: The saying “speed thrills, but kills” is accurate. Driving slowly allows a driver more control over the car and ensures that a quick and easy recovery is possible in case the vehicle spins, slips, or skids over snowy or slippery conditions.
- Ensure appropriate tire inflation: Driving at pressures higher or lower than the recommended tire pressure can result in problems such as increased tire wear, difficulty steering, tire blowout, and uncomfortable rides, which can all contribute to winter car accidents. Appropriately inflating tires to the right pressure can mitigate risks and ensure smooth driving.
- Use winter tires or tire chains: Winter tires are designed to provide more grip over snow. They’re made from a different compound that enhances their grip in cold weather, and their tread is optimized for ice and snow. In the alternative, chains can be placed over tires to help gain traction when driving over ice, snow, or frozen ground.
- Maintain safe distance: Always ensure you maintain safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. This ensures your safety during low-visibility conditions such as fog.
- Ensure proper maintenance of your vehicle: Ensure that brakes and power steering are in perfect working condition. Replace brake and steering fluid every year. Service your vehicle regularly.
Seek legal help for a winter car accident
In the aftermath of a winter car accident, hiring an experienced attorney is crucial for a number of reasons:
- Navigating legal issues specific to winter car accidents: An experienced attorney understands the unique legal considerations associated with winter accidents, ensuring a comprehensive approach to your case.
- Expertise in insurance claim: They can assist in dealing with insurance complexities, negotiating with adjusters, and securing fair compensation for damages and injuries.
- Establishment of fault: Your attorney can conduct a thorough investigation to determine liability, considering factors like weather conditions and road maintenance.
- Guidance through legal procedures: An attorney can seamlessly navigate complex legal procedures, ensuring proper documentation and meeting crucial deadlines.
- Court advocacy: In the event of litigation, an attorney with courtroom experience can represent your case effectively before a judge and jury.
- Peace of mind: Engaging an attorney allows you to focus on recovery, alleviating stress during a challenging time.
Choose an attorney with expertise in dealing with winter accidents and a proven track record. Many lawyers offer free consultations, enabling you to assess their suitability for your case. Having a skilled attorney considerably improves your chances of a favorable resolution.
How many accidents happen in the winter?
The number of winter accidents varies by location and year. According to FHWA, more than 150,000 accidents occur annually due to icy roads in the United States.
Which states have the most winter accidents?
States in northern regions with harsh winters, such as Michigan, Minnesota, and New York, report the most winter accidents in the United States.
What steps should be taken immediately after a car accident?
The following steps are recommended in case of a car accident: ensure everyone’s safety, check for injuries, call 911, exchange information with the other driver, document the accident scene, and notify your insurance company.
What steps can I take to prevent winter car accidents?
To prevent winter car accidents, use winter tires or chains, drive at reduced speeds, maintain a safe following distance, clear all windows and lights of ice and snow, and avoid unnecessary travel in severe weather.
Do I need to call 911 after a winter car accident?
It's advisable to call 911 after a winter car accident, especially in case of injuries or significant damage. Calling 911 ensures that emergency services are dispatched promptly.