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While regular snow and ice buildup on roadways is fairly visible to drivers, black ice may be all but invisible. Despite its misleading name, black ice is actually transparent, making it difficult to see. Drivers may often lose control of their vehicle if they encounter black ice, resulting in an accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident on black ice in Austin, you should call an experienced car accident attorney from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
WHAT IS BLACK ICE?
Black ice usually begins to form on roadways when the temperature reaches 32 degrees, though it is known to occasionally form in temperatures below freezing as well. When black ice forms, it creates a thin layer of ice over the surface of the road that is incredibly difficult to see. Much as with traditional ice, black ice presents a hazard to drivers and may cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle or be unable to stop effectively. As a result, car accidents on black ice are unfortunately all too common when this dangerous situation arises.
Black ice tends to form in places where, in warmer weather, water may be present on the roadway, such as along low-lying shoulders, areas with poor drainage, and areas where water may drip down onto the roadway, such as around overpasses. If the weather conditions are conducive to the formation of black ice, drivers should drive cautiously, especially in areas where moisture is likely to accumulate on the roadway.
Almost a quarter of accidents caused by inclement weather conditions affecting the roadway are caused by winter weather such as snow and ice. These accidents claim the lives of over 1,300 people a year and injure over 116,000. Much like regular road ice, the best way to prevent a car accident on black ice is to avoid driving in these conditions. If you must go out, you should drive slowly and pay close attention to the road and leave plenty of space between your vehicle and other vehicles. If possible, avoid roadways that do not receive direct sunlight, as black ice is more likely to form in these shadowy areas.
WHO IS LIABLE IN A CAR ACCIDENT CAUSED BY BLACK ICE?
Determining liability after an accident in any situation may often be difficult, and black ice may often only complicate these efforts. After an accident caused by black ice, another driver, municipalities responsible for road maintenance, or the company responsible for de-icing the roads may be liable.
Generally, drivers may be held liable for any car accident caused by the driver, even if the driver loses control of the vehicle on black ice. Drivers are expected to be able to control their vehicles, even in adverse weather conditions. Drivers also generally have a duty to take proper precautions when adverse weather conditions are present to avoid an accident. If another vehicle may have caused your accident due to black ice, the at-fault driver may be liable. Accidents involving multiple vehicles, such as a pile-up caused by black ice, may require investigation by local authorities and others to determine who may be at fault. A car accident attorney in Austin may often be able to help you determine who may be liable for your damages or injuries.
Municipalities or Entity Responsible for Road Maintenance
Depending on where you are driving, a municipality or state agency may be responsible for maintaining the roadway and ensuring it is safe for travel. If the entity responsible for the roadway fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the formation or buildup of ice, such as a failure to provide adequate drainage or reasonably treat the roadways for ice, that entity may be held liable for an accident caused by black ice.
Road Salting/De-icing Company
When wintry conditions are present on the roadways, some municipalities may hire a company to salt or sand the road, to help remove ice and provide traction. If this company fails to properly perform the task it was hired to do, it may be liable for any resulting accidents that may occur.
To seek compensation after an accident from the at-fault party, you must generally be able to prove they are liable for the accident and your injuries. Four elements must typically be proven: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Duty of Care
First, it must be proven that the at-fault party owed you a duty of care. A duty of care is an obligation to take certain precautions that may prevent an accident from occurring. For example, if black ice may be present on the roadway, drivers have an obligation to others on the road to drive slowly and carefully.
Breach of Duty
Secondly, it must be proven that the at-fault party breached their duty of care. A driver who speeds when there may be black ice on the road may be breaching their duty to other drivers.
Next, your Austin car accident attorney must generally prove that the at-fault driver’s breach of duty caused the accident. In other words, if not for the other party’s negligent behavior, the accident would not have occurred. If a driver chooses to speed and hits a patch of black ice, that driver may often lose control of the vehicle or be unable to stop, causing an accident.
Finally, damages must be proven to exist and have resulted from the accident. Accident victims may need to prove they have been harmed in some way, either physically, financially, or both, and that this harm was caused by the accident. If your loved one was killed in the accident, their death will typically satisfy the damages requirement.
HOW TO FILE A CLAIM
1. Consult an Attorney
If you have been injured in a black ice car accident, you should consider contacting a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Determining and proving liability can be a complex undertaking, and insurance companies have teams of attorneys who work hard to prevent insurers from paying whenever possible. An attorney may be able to help you to seek the compensation you may be entitled to after your accident.
If an attorney agrees to take your case, they may often begin by investigating your claim. This may involve examining the scene of the accident, collecting evidence, and interviewing witnesses. Your attorney may be able to use the information they collect to help determine who was at fault and who may be liable for the accident.
3. Negotiation and Settlement
Once your attorney has performed their investigation and has the necessary information, your attorney may then begin the negotiation process with the insurers. This process usually begins with your lawyer presenting your claim for compensation to the insurer, who may then accept or reject your claim. Insurers often reject this initial claim and counter with a much lower offer. Your attorney and the insurer may continue to negotiate until both sides can reach an agreeable amount for a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, your case may proceed to trial.
If your case goes to trial, your attorney may represent you in court. Your lawyer may present the jury with all the evidence gathered over the course of their investigation the other party was responsible for your accident and should be held liable for your injuries and damages. The jury will decide if you are entitled to any compensation, and how much compensation, if so.
In Texas, you may file a claim seeking compensation for both economic as well as non-economic damages if you were injured in a car accident on black ice. An experienced lawyer may be able to help you determine who is liable, as well as help you pursue compensation for your injuries.
Economic damages may often include:
You may be able to claim compensation for your medical expenses, including hospital stays, treatments, medication, specialist consultation, emergency transportation, and therapy required to recover from your injuries.
You may be able to seek compensation for damage done to your vehicle, which may cover repair costs, or if repair is impossible, up to the fair market value of the vehicle to replace it.
Loss of Income
If you missed any work due to your injuries caused by the accident, you may also be able to claim compensation for your lost wages during the period that you were unable to work.
Loss of Potential Income
If you are left unable to work due to injuries suffered in the accident, you may be able to claim compensation for your loss of potential income as well. Your age, sex, job type, general health, and salary before the accident may be factored into any compensation of this type.
Meanwhile, you may also be able to pursue non-economic damages in some cases, such as:
Pain and Suffering
You may be able to pursue compensation for any physical pain and emotional anguish you may have endured as a result of the accident. Compensation for pain and suffering is generally based on the severity of your injuries and their impact on the victim’s quality of life.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Victims of car accidents have a certain period of time within which they must file any claim, known as the statute of limitations. In Texas, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the date of the accident. If you file a claim after this period has expired, it will usually be prohibited.
CONSULT THE BLACK ICE CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
At Zinda Law Group, our car accident lawyers may often be able to help you pursue any compensation you may be entitled to if you or your loved one was injured in a crash caused by black ice. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have years of experience helping our clients pursue the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after being injured in collisions caused by black ice.
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