Winter is often characterized by shorter days, lower temperatures, and snowy weather conditions. These factors can pose danger to drivers and often contribute to an increase in auto accidents during the season. In November 2018, the first snowfall on Long Island occurred and, as a result, nearly 500 snow-related car accidents occurred, according to the Nassau and Suffolk Police Departments. Snow-related accidents are common, so it is important that drivers always exercise caution when driving during the winter season.
Removal of Snow and Ice
Before an individual even begins driving during winter conditions, they should always assure that their vehicle is free of all ice and snow. Not only is it unsafe to travel with snow on your vehicle, but the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law also requires that vehicles prevent the accumulation of snow and ice on the rear windshield. The owner of the vehicle or the driver operating the vehicle with their permission has the responsibility to comply with the law.
Additionally, a failure to remove snow and ice from their vehicle would signal a failure to use “reasonable care” in operating their vehicle. Snow and ice accumulation can obstruct a driver’s view or the blowing snow may obstruct the view of other drivers. This may lead to the owner or driver of the vehicle to be liable for any accident that results. Liability has even been found when the accumulation was a result of a malfunction of the defroster or windshield wipers, because the driver should have pulled over to remedy the situation.
Driving in Winter Weather Conditions
Once you are sure the vehicle is clear of all snow and ice, it is especially important to make sure you are driving with care. In the case of Betts v. Bean, a head-on collision occurred during a winter storm. The passenger of one of the cars sued the driver of their car for the injuries they sustained. Although both drivers argued that the snowstorm caused poor visibility, the court held that the driver was still under a duty to adjust his speed accordingly and could be found liable for the injuries.
When driving in winter conditions it is important to drive slowly and carefully and allow for extra stopping distance. Furthermore, even though a driver takes all precautions to assure they are driving safely, the driver must also be aware of their surroundings and fellow drivers. When possible, drivers should remain off the road altogether.
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to contact an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer who can advise you of your legal rights and remedies. The lawyers at Levine and Slavit, PLLC assist clients in obtaining compensation for their injuries that result from car and other motor vehicle accidents. For more information or to schedule a consultation with our New York auto accident lawyers, call (888) LAW-8088 or fill out our contact form.