From roughly November through March, winter weather wreaks havoc throughout Wisconsin. In particular, snow, ice and freezing temperatures make driving dangerous and raise the risk of getting into a serious car accident.
While it might make sense to stay home when the weather is inclement, as Milwaukee residents know, that simply isn’t possible. The demands of work, family and personal responsibilities constantly require us to hit the roads in less-than-ideal conditions.
Due to adverse weather conditions during the winter, our lawyers at Gruber Law Offices, LLC, find ourselves helping an increased number of clients to work through the legal issues that arise in the aftermath of a crash.
As we have seen, these accidents can cause serious property damage and injuries. Often, winter accidents are chain reaction crashes that involve multiple vehicles and, in turn, highly complex legal issues.
The following are some common questions about winter car accidents in Wisconsin that we are asked:
According to car accident statistics from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), out of the roughly 5.7 million car crashes that occur each year in the U.S., nearly a quarter of these accidents are due to adverse weather conditions. Ice, snow and sleet all create problems for drivers and can affect the following:
-Driver capabilities (such as being able to stop abruptly)
-Vehicle performance (including traction and manageability)
-Pavement friction (resulting in skidding and sliding)
-Infrastructure (in terms of potholes and uneven roadways)
All of these conditions can result in problems with traffic flow and an increase in car crashes. Otherwise capable drivers could find themselves being involved in a collision with another vehicle or in a chain reaction car crash.
While adverse weather is known to be a contributing factor in winter driving accidents, poor road conditions will not necessarily relieve a person of liability in the event that an accident occurs.
Regardless of the weather, all drivers are required to follow Wisconsin’s rules of the road. These rules establish safe driving behaviors in terms of:
In addition to following state laws in regards to driver safety, drivers are also expected to reasonably modify their driving behavior during adverse conditions by following standard winter driving tips. Failure to do so could be considered negligent, making you liable for any accidents that occur as a result.
According to the most recent car accident statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, there is a general overall increase in car accident injuries and fatalities during the winter months. Property damage to vehicles caused by these crashes almost doubles.
If you or someone you care about is involved in a winter weather-related car accident or chain reaction car crash, our Milwaukee car accident lawyers can help.
We can thoroughly investigate your collision by gathering police reports and witness statements and using experts’ insights to reconstruct your accident. We can also obtain reports regarding weather and road conditions at the time of the accident.
You should know that Wisconsin follows the doctrine of comparative negligence. Under this law, if you are 51 percent or more at fault for an accident, you are barred from recovering any damages.
If your fault falls below that threshold, you can still recover damages, but they would be lowered based on your percentage of fault. In other words, if you are 20 percent at fault, your damages would be reduced by 20 percent.
This is important when it comes to winter driving accidents. The other driver – or many other drivers if it is a chain reaction crash – may try to assign blame to you in an attempt to reduce your damages or prevent you from recovering damages altogether. We can build a strong case for your financial recovery that counters those arguments.
While even a cautious driver can find themselves involved in a winter driving accident, you can help to reduce your risks by following these AAA winter driving tips:
-Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. Check your brake lines and pads and tire tread and air pressure. Make sure that your windshield wipers work and that your fluids are at proper levels.
-Always keep your gas tank at least half full so as to avoid fuel line freeze up.
-Do not use cruise control when driving on wet or potentially icy surfaces.
-Always look and steer in the direction you want to go.
-Allow plenty of room between yourself and other vehicles.
-Go the speed limit and drive slower in particularly bad conditions.
-Make sure your seat belt is fastened at all times.
-Avoid distractions while driving such as cell phones or GPS devices.
-Do not drive while fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. (Even over-the-counter medicines can have an adverse effect on your reflexes and judgment.)
In addition to the above, AAA advises that you let someone know where you are going and what time you plan to get there. Keep your cell phone charged and make sure to have blankets, gloves, jumper cables and a flashlight in case of breakdowns.
If you or a loved one is involved in a winter driving accident, contact Gruber Law Offices, LLC. One call is all it takes to get our experienced Milwaukee car accident lawyers hard at work on your case.
We can advise you on the best course of action in your particular situation while providing the effective, efficient legal representation you need.
When your reputation and assets are on the line, you need a law firm to aggressively defend your interests. At Gruber Law Offices, LLC, you get the benefit of having one of the top-rated personal injury law firms in Milwaukee.
Call or contact us online today to for a free consultation.