NJ Winter Weather Car Accident Attorneys
Collisions in Bad Weather: Who Is Responsible?
When winter conditions are a factor in a car crash, determining whether the collision was the fault of another party or just purely an accident can be difficult. Several variables must be accounted for, including state and local municipal regulations that govern driving in the wintertime. If you have been involved in a car accident involving icy or snowy roads, it is highly advised that you seek guidance from a qualified injury lawyer to get an understanding of your legal rights and options.
The experienced New Jersey personal injury attorneys at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., are dedicated to helping injured victims get the compensation they need to recover from their injuries. We offer free comprehensive consultations at (609) 240-0040. There is no obligation on your part for speaking with us, and everything we discuss will be kept confidential. So, don’t hesitate to bring your questions to us – we will provide the answers you need.
Snow and Ice Laws in New Jersey
In New Jersey, motorists are legally obligated to clear ice and snow from their vehicles following a snowstorm. When blown off by high winds or speed, snow and ice accumulations can cause property damage and injury, or even obstruct a driver’s vision, causing a crash. Citations for violations can range from $25 to $1,000, depending on whether damages are involved. Commercial vehicles are subject to even higher fines. If the liable driver in your case has been cited for this violation, you may support your claim with the citation.
Other Causes of Winter Weather Auto Accidents
Other factors that commonly contribute towards auto collisions during winter include:
- Lack of visibility in winter storms ("whiteouts")
- Loss of wheel traction due to patches of snow, slush, or ice
- Black ice, which is extremely difficult to spot
- Freezing rain
Drivers can prepare for winter hazards and prevent accidents by changing to snow tires, driving slowly with plenty of space between vehicles, keeping their windshields clear, putting their vehicles into low gear, and learning how to handle a skid.
Winter Motorcycle Accidents
Most people think that riding a motorcycle is an activity reserved for spring and summer. Often, those people do not own motorcycles. For many, a motorcycle is the only means of transportation; and ice and snow are not going to stop them from riding.
Motorcyclists need to do everything they can to keep themselves safe if they decide to take their motorcycle out on the road in bad conditions. Safety precautions for riding a motorcycle during winter include:
- Stay alert. Other motorists are unlikely to be accustomed to seeing motorcycles out on the road when snow and ice are a factor. Motorcyclists need to be aware of this and compensate for it by being even more alert. This means keeping enough distance between your bike and another vehicle to give it more time to see you, and to give both drivers extra time to react in certain situations.
- Keep motorcycles maintained. A poorly maintained bike, like a poorly maintained car, is an accident waiting to happen. Check the brakes, as well as the tires, and make sure that you are ready to stop abruptly if needed.
- Dress appropriately. Of course, motorcyclists will need to dress warmly to be better prepared for the elements. But wearing reflective gear and other bright clothing can help make drivers more aware that they are still sharing the road with motorcyclists.
The U.S. Department of Transportation states that nearly 25% of all car accidents are due to poor road conditions. During a particularly heavy snowstorm in New Jersey in 2017, there were over 200 vehicle accidents. These stats show just how dangerous bad road conditions can be, and how important it is for drivers to remain extra vigilant when on icy and snowy roads.
One driver is usually “at fault” for an accident, but at times roads that haven’t been properly maintained do cause accidents. A road that’s slick with ice, for instance, can be very hard to navigate and difficult to predict so that it can be avoided. When an icy road causes a crash, the driver may have a case against the city or state of New Jersey. In fact, the state, city, county, or other municipal agency can be held liable when a street hasn’t been plowed, if it hasn’t been salted, or if the snowbanks resulting from plowing cover street signs and intersections, or prevent drivers from seeing around corners.
Normally, the statute of limitations in a car crash in New Jersey is two years. However, that statute is greatly reduced when the government is the one being sued. In New Jersey, a Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days when suing a municipality or government entity or the lawsuit is null and void. For this reason, when the cause of an accident is an improperly maintained road, it becomes even more critical that the injured party speak with a lawyer and file a lawsuit as quickly as possible.
Although it may be understandable as a reason, ice or snow cannot be used as a defense for your car accident, particularly if the city has kept that road properly maintained. In the eyes of both the insurance company and the law, drivers are expected to keep their vehicles under control at all times, even in bad weather. In cases where one or more drivers contributed to the crash, those drivers may be held personally accountable. When that is the case, the injured party may file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault drivers.
Tire chains offer more traction and can prevent slipping and sliding, especially on ice. Another option is studded snow tires, which have small pieces of metal or plastic embedded in them and provide better traction in snow. Many states have outlawed their use because they can cause damage to the roads, but they are allowed in New Jersey, as long as they are only used between November 15th and April 1st.
There are also snow tires, which have built-in traction without additional studs. (They are less useful than chains when it comes to icy roads, however.) There is no law stating when these can be installed on a vehicle, but they shouldn’t be used during the summer months as they can wear out quickly, especially in warmer weather.
NJ Attorneys You Can Trust
Why should you hire Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. and not some other law firm? First of all, we have a proven track record of success. Just look at the numbers in our case results page: we have achieved multiple multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts. Secondly, we do not take a cent unless we recover on your behalf. This means you won’t have to pay us any upfront fees. Finally, we treat our clients like family. We will keep you aware of your progress every step of the way and make your goals and needs our highest priority.
To learn more about how our firm can help you or a loved one obtain justice after a New Jersey car accident, please contact us at (609) 240-0040 today. You may call our office, submit an online contact form, or speak with one of our helpful representatives using the live chat feature on this page.
- Snow Safety: Surviving the New Jersey Winter
- I Thought It Was a Puddle: Black Ice Driving Danger
- Is There Weather You Shouldn’t EVER Drive In?
- Remember to Drive Safely During the Winter Season
- Car Safety Check - Make Sure Your Tires are Ready for Snow
- Car Safety Check - Preparing for Holiday Travel
- Do You Know How the Weather Affects New Jersey Roads?
- New Jersey Weather-Related Crashes Prove Fatal
- Two Killed in Union Township Crash Caused by Icy Roads
- New Jersey Winter Weather Preparedness: Safety on the Road
- Safe Winter Driving
- Current New Jersey Road Conditions
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