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Denver is no stranger to black ice. Black ice in Denver has caused thousands of car accidents over the years. It is important to know that a driver cannot blame black ice for an accident. Drivers have a responsibility to drive carefully in all types of weather situations.
If you or your loved one has been injured in a black ice car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our Denver car accident attorneys.
What Is Black Ice?
Despite its name, black ice is not actually black. The reason why black ice is called black ice is because the ice is so transparent that it blends with the surface it is on. Because roads are often dark and ice is transparent, the ice somewhat looks black. Because black ice blends itself with the road, it is hard to see black ice without close inspection. Often, black ice does not even look like ice. It simply looks like a wet puddle. Unfortunately, it is much less innocuous than a puddle.
Black ice situations generally occur when the temperature of the ground reaches freezing temperatures while rain or sleet is falling. Black ice also forms more often at nighttime because the sun tends to melt ice in the morning. However, at night, the ice can form without any problem in freezing temperatures.
Spotting Black Ice on the Road
Spotting black ice is difficult since the ice often looks no different than water. Instead of trying to distinguish whether something is black ice or a puddle of water, you should assume that anything that looks like water on the ground in the winter is black ice. In other words, assume that every wet spot on the road is black ice in freezing temperatures.
Avoiding Black Ice
Avoid getting into a black ice accident by driving around it. Of course, you should be wary of other drivers around you when you do so. Also, if you see skid marks around a wet spot, that might be a hint that the wet spot is actually black ice. If you have lived in Denver for a while, you probably already know the areas that are more prone to black ice than others. In those areas, make sure that you drive extra cautiously.
How to Stay Safe When Black Ice Is On the Road
Drive at a Slow Speed
Do not speed when you see black ice on the road. Unfortunately, many drivers – whether out of negligence or thoughtlessness – do not follow this simple tip. It is important to release that black ice is not snow. Snow offers some traction for your tires. However, black ice offers very little traction. This means suddenly putting your foot on the brake pedal while on black ice will be ineffective. You will simply slide across the ice. Instead, you should let your car decelerate naturally prior to reaching the black ice. Make sure you do not do sudden turns on black ice.
Pump the Brakes When Skidding
It is likely that you may skid at some point during the winter in Denver. However, your skid does not have to lead to an accident. When skidding, pump the brakes while gently turning. Once you have recovered from the skid, return your steering wheel to the neutral position.
Make Sure to Check the Temperature
Modern vehicles generally have a display that can show you the temperature of the outside. Pay attention when it is chilly outside. If the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you should expect there to be black ice. Even if the display shows that the temperature is above 32 degrees, you should always assume it is a little bit lower than that in winter weather since your car’s engine may be affecting the reading.
Common Causes of Black Ice Accidents
- Unsafe passing
- Driving distractedly
- Fatigued driving
- Stopping brakes suddenly
Steps to Take After a Black Ice Accident
1. Call 911
In any car accident where injury has occurred, you should call the police and 911. Do not try to help injured individuals if you do not have the skills or training. Also, do not try and move injured individuals unless they are in threat of harm.
2. Call the Police
Though the police will likely come as well once you call 911, you should also make sure that a police offer will be en route after an accident. No matter how minor your car accident is, you should call the police since a police officer can make a police report, which can be useful if you plan to file a claim with your insurance company or file a lawsuit.
3. Move Your Vehicles If You Can
Clogging up the road can only raise the risk of another car accident. If your car and the other party’s car are still able to function, try and move the cars to the shoulder of the road.
4. Obtain Insurance and Other Personal Information
In any car accident, you should ask those involved in the accident for their name, contact information, driver’s license number, and car insurance information.
If there were witnesses at the scene of the accident, see if you can get their names and contact information as well. Your insurance company and potential attorney may need their testimony for your claim or lawsuit. Do not forget to get the badge number and name of the primary responding officer on the scene.
5. Gather Evidence If You Are Able
Though the police may take pictures and such, it may be helpful that you do your own detective work. Take pictures of the vehicles involved in the crash and the scene of the crash in general.
6. Contact Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company likely has a policy that requires you to contact it after any car accident. If you fail to contact your insurance company, you may risk losing your coverage. Speaking with an insurance company does not mean that you are required to file a claim. Filing a claim can raise your premiums, so talk with your insurance agent before you decide to file a claim.
7. Keep Records
Keeping good records is vital if you plan to file an insurance claim or file a lawsuit. This means you need to keep receipts of your pay stubs and medical bills. You should also make sure that you get every agreement you make with a claims agent in writing. It may also be a good idea to have a journal in which you record events of what is going on in your case.
8. Contact an Attorney
An experienced attorney can be very helpful if you decide to file a lawsuit against an opposing party or dealing with a difficult insurance company. Even if you do not plan on hiring an attorney, speaking with one can give you an idea of the options available to you.
How Is Fault Determined in a Black Ice Accident?
First, be aware that a defendant in a black ice car accident lawsuit cannot blame black ice for the accident. Thus, the usual fault division rule that Colorado uses applies. Colorado utilizes the modified comparative negligence rule. In Colorado, if a plaintiff is 50% or more at fault for an accident, he or she cannot recover any compensation. However, if the plaintiff is 49% or less at fault for an accident, he or she will receive compensation reduced by the percentage of fault that can be attributed to him or her. This rule applies no matter how many parties are involved. As long as the plaintiff’s fault for the accident is not 50% or more, he or she may have a chance to receive compensation.
Colorado Statute of Limitations
Every state has a statute of limitations, which tells its citizens how long they have to file a lawsuit. In Colorado, citizens have three years from the date of the accident to file a car accident lawsuit. After three years, courts will generally refuse to hear your claim.
Just because you have three years to file a lawsuit does not mean you should delay filing your lawsuit. Witnesses can die and memories can start to get foggy.
There are, of course, exceptions to the three-year rule. If you were unable to discover your injuries until sometime after the accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit even if three years has passed. For instance, if you discovered you had spinal cord injury a year after the accident, you may have additional time to file a lawsuit. However, you will need definite proof that you were not aware of the spinal cord injury at the time of the accident to be allowed to file a lawsuit beyond the three years.
CONTACT A DENVER CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER
The experienced Denver attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you with your black ice car accident claim. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.