As a Texas resident, you don’t regularly expect to encounter snow storm car accidents in your home state. However, with the recent deadly snow storm taking its toll across the Lone Star State, road safety concerns are rising.
The severe weather has resulted in millions of Texans living in the cold without power, increasing traffic on slick roads as they seek warm shelter in nearby businesses and hotels. This dangerous combination of bad weather and traffic congestion contributed to a fatal pileup involving 130 vehicles on I-35W in Fort Worth. Six people were killed in the accident, along with many others who suffered varying injuries.
Many other snow storm accidents have been reported around the area, leaving injured Texans wondering, “Who’s at fault in snow-related car accidents?” Our Houston car accident attorneys explain who can be liable and how fault can impact your accident claim in Texas.
Who is liable in a snow-related car accident?
Below are some of the parties that can be held liable in a snow-related car accident:
If someone is speeding or tailgating on a snowy or ice-covered road, it increases the likelihood of an accident. Failure to adjust your driving for the current weather conditions can be considered negligence, leaving the driver open to liability for a resulting accident and injuries.
The most common example is a driver who isn’t using snow tires. This makes it more difficult for their vehicle to maintain traction, which puts others at risk when they start to skid. Lack of weather-appropriate vehicle equipment can leave a driver liable for causing snow storm car accidents.
Drivers can only do so much to maintain their safety on snowy roads. It’s also the responsibility of local governments to plow and treat the roads according to weather conditions. Failure to do so can result in an injury lawsuit against the city government but this can be a complicated process that requires an experienced car accident attorney.
It’s possible that more than one of these parties can be liable for snow storm car accidents. But what if you were partly at fault as well? How does this impact your accident claim and compensation under Texas law?
Texas modified comparative fault
Like many U.S. states, Texas has a comparative fault law.
This allows a Texas court to hold each party involved in an accident accountable for their percentage of fault.
Here’s an example: if a court awards you $100,000 but finds that you were 40 percent responsible for the accident, you’ll only receive $60,000 in compensation.
This law also allows courts to reduce damages if you settle with more than one at-fault party.
It’s important to keep in mind that under the comparative fault law, you will not be able to recover any compensation if the court determines that you’re more than 50 percent responsible for causing the accident.
How insurance companies try to deny snow-related car accident claims
Even if it’s clear to you that you should receive compensation for your injuries and other damages, don’t expect insurance companies to play nice. They’re in the business of denying claims and paying out as little money as possible.
Below are some strategies that insurance companies might use to argue that an accident was caused by poor weather conditions rather than human negligence:
This means the road conditions resulted from natural causes such as a flood, earthquake or storm, which could not have been prevented. In this argument, since no human could have prevented these natural forces, the insurance company will deny liability for your weather-related accident and injuries.
This means the weather conditions were so bad that even if a driver took all necessary precautions to ensure safety on the road, the accident was unavoidable. In this argument, a skilled car accident attorney would investigate to make sure the other driver was taking all precautions on the road, or collect evidence that proves otherwise.
Similar to the “Act of God” argument, this strategy claims that the accident was a result of a sudden emergency, such as an unexpected severe winter storm that couldn’t be prevented.
As you can see, these arguments contain a great deal of grey area that insurance companies will rely on to try and deny your accident claim. This is why it’s critical to arm yourself with an aggressive Houston car accident lawyer who will fight back and prove your case.
Driving safety tips to avoid snow storm car accidents
Whether you’re battling the current Texas winter storm or preparing for future extreme weather, follow the safety tips below to help keep you and your family safe on the roads:
- Slow down: reduce your speed appropriately, even if that means driving below the speed limit.
- Use snow tires and/or tire chains: This improves traction, which reduces the risk of losing control of your vehicle.
- Leave more space: As a general rule of thumb, leave three times the normal following distance when driving in inclement weather.
- Skidding: If your vehicle starts to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes and steer into the direction of the skid until you have regained traction.
Our Houston car accident attorneys can offer legal protection in snow-related car accidents
If you’re injured in a snow storm car accident, don’t hesitate to contact Johnson Garcia LLP online or give us a call for a free consultation. With over 30 years of combined experience, our skilled Houston car accident attorneys will identify the at-fault parties in your snow-related car accident and fight against the insurance companies for your maximum compensation.