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Who is liable when icy or slippery conditions cause a crash?

On Behalf of | Dec 19, 2023 | Car Accidents

Motor vehicle collisions occur for many different reasons. Sometimes, a vehicle has a defective component that suddenly fails, leading to someone losing control. Other times, distraction, intoxication and other poor choices directly contribute to a wreck. The decisions of individual drivers are usually the underlying cause of most wrecks.

Occasionally, factors outside of an individual’s control, like inclement weather, lead to a collision in the Washington D.C. area. Winter weather can very quickly turn otherwise safe streets slippery or icy. Drivers out on icy or slippery streets could end up in a crash caused by the state of the roads.

Who is at fault for a crash related to icy or slippery road conditions?

Drivers should adjust their habits for the weather

Although some people might want to blame the weather for a crash involving icy road conditions, there are simple steps that people can take to reduce their risk of causing a wreck when the weather grows chilly. Drivers generally need to reduce their speed when roads are slippery because it will take longer to come to a complete stop. They also need to leave more space between their vehicle and other vehicles on the road.

Traffic statutes in Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC require that drivers adjust the following distance that they maintain based on road conditions. While a three-second following distance is usually sufficient when roads are dry, drivers may need to leave much more space between their vehicles when the roads become slippery due to snow, slush or ice. Lowering vehicle speed to reflect dangerous road conditions is another step to help people avoid a crash.

A driver who hits another motorist because they cannot stop on icy pavement would likely face personal responsibility for the wreck. Drivers in the Washington D.C. area therefore need to understand local laws and also be proactive about adjusting their habits when road conditions change.

Ultimately, a driver who slams into someone else on icy streets could incur financial responsibility for the consequences of the crash they’ve caused. The other parties involved in the wreck might file a liability insurance claim or initiate a personal injury lawsuit to hold them accountable for the financial losses generated in the collision.