Injured - The FindLaw Accident, Injury and Tort Law Blog

When Ice Causes a Car Accident, Who's Liable?

Every winter, when the roads get icy, accidents happen. Cars and ice just don’t mix, especially if you throw a hill into the equation.

However, when the cause of two cars colliding is an icy road, the driver that slides is likely to find out that they can blame it on the ice but they can’t escape liability (financial responsibility). This is due to the way that the legal theory of negligence works, which is the most frequently used legal theory in lawsuits stemming from auto accidents.

Negligence Is Ice Cold

Very little in the law is as clear as black and white. However, when it comes to a car crash, negligence is one of those legal theories where liability can be difficult to avoid. To be found liable for negligence, it simply requires that a person owe a duty to another, and that as a result of breaching that duty, the other person is injured or incurs financial damages. Basically, when driving, every driver owes every other driver on the road the duty to drive safe and not collide with other vehicles on the road.

If your car initiates the contact, or causes the collision to occur, you’re likely to be found negligent, even if you were sliding on ice.

The Duty to Drive Safely and Adapt

Nearly every state’s traffic laws specifically require drivers to adapt to changing road and weather conditions. When there is bad weather, drivers are required to change their driving habits to adapt to the road and weather conditions. This means that if the roads are icy, drivers should drive slower, increase their following distance, and just generally drive more carefully and attentively in order to avoid accidents.

If a driver hits a patch of ice and is unable to stop in time to avoid an accident, barring other mitigating circumstances (such as the driver getting hit also being negligent), they will be considered at fault, and thus liable for the damages and injuries they caused, because they failed in their duty to drive safely.

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