Driver Liability for Accidents Involving Black Ice

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on February 5, 2021 in Car Accidents
Updated on February 24, 2022

tires of a car in snowWinter Wisconsin weather, such as snow, ice, and freezing rain creates dangerous driving conditions for everyone sharing the road. Even experienced drivers can lose control of their vehicle and hit another car or fixed object, resulting in serious injuries. That is why it is important to be vigilant when driving, especially when dangerous road conditions like black ice are present.

Our Milwaukee-based car accident lawyers are prepared to guide you through the legal process after an accident involving black ice. We are very familiar with these types of cases and know how to determine liability. Learn if you may have a case when you schedule an initial consultation at PKSD. It is 100 percent free and carries no risk or obligation to hire our services.

What is Black Ice and Why It is So Dangerous?

Black ice is a road condition that happens when rain or sleet falls onto the frozen ground. Low temperatures cause the moisture to freeze into a thin layer of ice on road surfaces, making it nearly impossible for drivers to detect. The road may just look wet in some areas, but that is what makes black ice so treacherous. It is not simply hard to see – it is often transparent, blending into the ground and surroundings.

Black ice often forms at night or in the early morning hours when temperatures are at their lowest. It also frequently forms on more shaded and less traveled bridges, roads and overpasses. These are the types of road conditions that can cause serious winter car accidents if drivers fail to use precautions.

Driver Negligence and Duty of Care

In Wisconsin, a person may be found negligent for failing to exercise the care any reasonable person would have used in a similar situation. Drivers owe a duty to others and may be liable if that duty was not fulfilled through the person’s actions or inactions.

On the roadway, part of this is a duty of care toward other drivers. In the event of an accident, the driver who hit another vehicle will likely be found negligent for violating traffic laws – such as speeding. But what if the other driver claims that black ice caused the crash? Even if black ice contributed to an accident, it is not enough to avoid liability.

Drivers who fail to take extra precautions in adverse weather can be liable for an accident and resulting damages.

Avoiding an Accident Driving on Black Ice

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), about 50,000 car accidents occur in the state every winter when the roads are covered with snow, ice or slush.

WisDOT recently released its annual winter maintenance report for drivers. Read it to learn about their efforts to provide drivers with the safest road experience possible, despite harsh winter weather.

To help avoid an accident on black ice, drivers can do the following to keep themselves and others safe on the road:

  • Allow more time: Having more travel time will make you less tense – and less likely to make risky driving decisions.
  • Drive slower: The faster you are going when you hit black ice, the more likely you are to lose control of your vehicle and hit another car or a fixed object.
  • Keep your distanceYou should leave at least double the recommended space between your car and the vehicle in front of you. If you need to brake, apply pressure carefully, but firmly to prevent skidding.
  • Use your headlights: In the early afternoon, your headlights will help you to see any shiny spots on the road that may be black ice.
  • Check your tire tread and pressure: A worn tire with low pressure will have less traction if you hit a patch of black ice.
  • Do not engage your cruise control: This feature is unsafe to use in snow or icy conditions, because if your vehicle hydroplanes or skids, it can cause you to spin out of control.
  • Properly Maintain Your Vehicle: Make sure you replace worn tires or brakes, check your battery performance and more.
  • Keep Your Windshield Clean and Clear: This task is hard in bad weather but using a winter de-icing windshield fluid can help.

If you consider yourself a nervous driver, you may want to avoid being on the roads during the worst of the winter weather.

Learn More About Your Rights Today

Most winter-related accidents are preventable, but if you have sustained an injury, it is important to know your rights. At PKSD, we offer a free case review to assess your situation and inform you of your available legal options. We know what it takes to properly calculate damages for car accident injuries.

If we represent you, there are no upfront fees. We do not get paid for our services unless we help you obtain compensation via a settlement or verdict.

Call PKSD at 877-877-2228 for experienced legal help.

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