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During the cold-weather months, inclement weather such as snow and ice can affect driving conditions on the road. Black ice is dangerous and almost impossible to see. Black ice car accidents can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
If you were injured in a car accident due to black ice and there were other parties involved, you may be able to recover damages.
What is Black Ice?
Black ice is not actually black, but it is named so because it takes on the color of the road. Black ice is ice that is invisible because it is the same color as the road and cannot be seen. It forms when water freezes in a thin layer on the surface of a road.
If a road is not maintained well enough and does not drain properly, then black ice may form. If you are injured by black ice that should have been prevented by whoever is responsible for maintaining the road, you may have a black ice car accident case.
Black ice is slippery, just like regular ice, except since it is invisible, you will not be able to see it and might not be prepared when you drive across it. Sliding on black ice can cause your vehicle to spin out of control. This may make you hit other drivers or cause other drivers to run into you, causing a multi-car pileup accident.
What Causes Black Ice?
Black ice is caused when there is a thin coating of water on a road that then freezes over to create a transparent layer of ice. It is hard to see because it freezes clear. Black ice is more likely to form in certain places and at certain times of the day. Any vehicle can lose traction on black ice, even all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles.
Black ice is more likely to form after a light rainfall when temperatures are just below freezing at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Bridges and overpasses tend to freeze first before roads do because they are elevated and become colder faster. Tunnels and roads in the shade that do not get sunlight tend to stay colder for longer and may harbor black ice. Since the temperature is cooler during dawn and dusk hours, these times increase the chance of black ice forming.
How to Be Cautious When Driving in Black Ice Conditions
To avoid black ice car accidents, know when black ice is more likely to occur. You will not be able to see the black ice, but recognizing the conditions that create black ice and then exercising caution while driving in these conditions could prevent an accident.
- Drive slowly in snowy or raining conditions, especially when it is below freezing temperatures
- Keep extra distance between yourself and other vehicles to allow yourself more time to stop if you slide
- Use your headlines to identify shiny spots in the road that could be black ice
- Maintain your tires in good shape as worn tires will have less traction
- Steer and brake slowly
- Avoid using cruise control
- Consider an alternate route that does not require driving over a bridge or shaded stretch of road
- Consider using snow or winter tires
If you are already sliding as a result of black ice, you can avoid making the situation more dangerous by how you navigate the slide. If you are in a front-wheel drive vehicle, do not apply your brakes or accelerator and turn in the direction of the slide. If you are in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, gently steer in the direction you wish to go and lightly apply the accelerator. In an all-wheel-drive, brake normally if you have antilock brakes, or pump the breaks if you do not.
Sometimes you may not be able to prevent a black ice car accident if someone else is sliding and hits you. Even though they may have been driving carefully and did not intend to hit you, they may still be liable to you for any damages.
What to Do if You Are Injured in a Black Ice Accident
After a black ice accident, call 911 as soon as possible. Allow the police to file a police report. While you are waiting for the police, take pictures of the scene of the accident. Collect information from the other driver that includes their insurance information. If the black ice accident caused a multi-car pileup, collect information from every driver involved.
Seek medical treatment immediately after any car accident, even if you do not feel injured. Some injuries may become worse over time or adrenaline from the accident could be masking pain symptoms.
Contact a black ice car accident attorney in Texas as soon as possible. Remember that you do not have to speak with insurance agencies by yourself and you should not sign any settlement agreement without first speaking with your attorney.
Who Might be Liable if You are in a Black Ice Car Accident?
To show that someone else was responsible, or liable, for your injuries, you will need to prove that they were acting negligently. This means that they had a duty to drive carefully as another responsible driver would have in similar conditions, they failed to exercise that duty, and because of their actions, you were harmed.
Some examples that may show they were acting negligently include:
- Driving too fast for the current road conditions
- Following too closely
- Passing when not permitted
- Not abiding by road signs and rules
- Driving under the influence
- Driving while distracted, such as texting or driving drowsy
- Braking suddenly
Keep in mind that insurance companies will hold individual drivers liable for road and weather conditions in the event of an accident. Drivers have a duty to drive carefully and take precautions for black ice conditions to prevent an accident.
However, in some instances, there may be someone responsible for maintaining a safe roadway. This could be a municipality, an individual, or someone else.
If someone else was responsible for preventing black ice to form and did not take steps to drain excess water before it froze, they may be liable to you for damages. Some cities will require roads to be salted to prevent black ice from forming. If a maintenance company was responsible for salting the roads and they failed to do so, they could be found liable for your damages.
Hiring a car accident attorney in Texas who is experienced in this area of the law may be able to help you if you were injured in a car accident due to black ice.
How Does Inclement Weather Impact Roads?
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, weather can impact vehicle performance and handling. On average, there are over 5,891,000 vehicle crashes each year, with about 21% being related to inclement weather. On average, nearly 5,000 people die each year due to weather-related crashes.
Weather events can reduce the effectiveness of traffic signal timing, since it may take vehicles longer to safely cross an intersection during inclement weather. Weather conditions may require drivers to slow down, which will not be adjusted for in traffic signal timing plans. Drivers will be responsible for knowing when to drive more cautiously in bad weather.
Texas Car Accident Laws
Texans who are involved in a car crash are required to file a crash report form within ten days of the accident if it was not investigated by the police and the accident resulted in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000.
Texas is a “fault” insurance state, which means that you may file a claim against the at-fault driver. This means that any driver may be held liable for damages they caused in a car accident. There is a two-year time limit for filing a claim, which begins on the date of the car accident.
Additional Winter Car Accident Safety Tips
According to AAA, winter accidents pose an increased danger to drivers because of the low temperatures. Be sure to keep extra layers of clothing in your car, food and water, a flashlight, and blankets. Always keep half a tank of fuel in your car. If you are not able to leave due to snow conditions or your car is not operable after a car crash, only run the engine for a few minutes at a time to remove the chill and conserve fuel.
Get Help from Texas Car Crash Lawyers
At Zinda Law Group, our Texas lawyers are experienced and have handled many cases involving black ice car crashes. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you determine what to do next and to help recover the best possible outcome for your case.
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