An inch of snow or a coating of black ice in freezing temperatures can make a road, overpass, or bridge look like a demolition derby. Drivers losing control and crashing into other vehicles can not only result in hundreds of dollars in car repairs, but may land other drivers and their passengers in the hospital with serious injuries.
If another car hit you on an icy road, you may be wondering who will pay for your car repairs. Can you hold another driver who spun out of control legally liable for your injuries?
OEB Law, PLLC, can provide answers to your questions and help you get the maximum amount of compensation to pay for your accident-related expenses. Call an icy road accident lawyer in Knoxville today at 865-546-1111 to schedule a free legal consultation.
How Dangerous Are Icy Road Accidents?
Icy road accident cases are not only complex but dangerous. The Federal Highway Administration monitored car crashes and their causes between 2005 and 2014. According to their data, of the 5.74 million vehicle crashes that occurred each year, an average of 1.25 million—or about 22 percent—were weather-related. Weather-related crashes include those on slick pavement such as wet, snowy or slushy, or icy pavement. During the same time period, an average of nearly 6,000 people died and over 445,000 people suffered injuries in weather-related crashes.
Are Drivers Liable for Causing Accidents in Dangerous Road Conditions?
Some motorists may view driving on icy roads as their worst nightmare. Nonetheless, the state’s motor vehicle code holds all drivers responsible for being in control of their vehicles regardless of weather or road conditions. The code calls for every driver to use due care to avoid collisions by operating the vehicle at a safe speed, keeping it under control, and devoting time and attention to driving.
Tennessee law expects drivers to use extra care to avoid causing an accident by controlling their vehicle in all types of weather. That may mean following winter driving tips, including driving slowly on slippery roads to give you time to maneuver since accelerating, stopping, and turning takes longer. When drivers fail to adjust to icy road conditions and lose control of their vehicles, they breach their duty of care to drive safely.
Does the Duty of Care Apply in Inclement Weather?
A Tennessee Appeals Court sought to answer this question in the 2010 case, MacLeod vs. McKenzie. Their opinion shows drivers still have a legal duty to exercise care under existing circumstances.
A passenger accused a driver of negligence by driving too fast on a wet road and causing an accident. The plaintiff said she suffered cuts, bruises, and broke both wrists. The driver, however, said she was not driving too fast for the wet road conditions, although she said in her deposition that she was not sure if she was driving over the speed limit. She claimed that she applied her brakes when her car began to fishtail, but there was nothing she could have done to avoid the accident.
According to the appeals court opinion, questions of fact remained as to whether the driver was negligent and whether she “exercised ordinary care under the circumstances.” The court sent the case back for a jury trial.
That means that even if the other driver in your case claims icy road conditions left them unable to prevent your crash, we may still be able to hold them liable for your damages.
Our Lawyers Will Carefully Examine Your Accident
We conduct a thorough investigation of your accident to find proof that the driver’s negligence caused your accident. Our examination may show the other driver engaged in negligent driving behaviors, such as intoxication, distracted driving, or speeding. We may also talk to eyewitnesses to the accident, obtain photographs of the accident scene, and consult police reports that contain details of your crash.
If multiple vehicles played a role in your accident, our lawyers can help identify which drivers were at fault for the collision. For instance, a driver may have rear-ended your vehicle and another may have T-boned your vehicle. Our law firm has a variety of resources to help us carefully examine the actions of all the drivers. We may work with an expert to reconstruct the accident scene as another way to determine which drivers were negligent.
What Evidence Do I Need for My Insurance Claim?
Tennessee is an at-fault state, which means the drivers responsible for your accident are liable for bodily injuries and property damages. To recover these damages, we need to file a claim with the insurance company of the negligent driver. To support your claim, we collect information that may include your:
- Medical expenses;
- Ambulance transportation;
- Home medical equipment;
- Physical therapy;
- Vehicle repairs;
- Lost wages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish; and
- Loss of consortium.
Using this information, we will request a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurer that is large enough to compensate you for the full value of your losses.
What If I Do Not Agree With the Settlement Offer?
We negotiate claims with insurance companies on your behalf to obtain the maximum amount of compensation you are eligible for under that law. Often times, insurers offer low settlement amounts that we know will not meet your needs. We continue negotiations until you approve of the settlement. If we cannot reach a settlement agreement on your injury claim, you may choose to take the case to court for a jury trial.
How Much Time Do I Have to Take Action?
Under Tennessee’s statute of limitations, you only have one year to file a personal injury lawsuit after an icy road crash. Even if you do not intend to file a lawsuit in court, it is essential we preserve your right to do so. Sometimes the prospect of an impending lawsuit is the only way to motivate an insurer to offer a fair settlement for your injuries.
Let Us Help You File Your Icy Road Accident Claim.
Filing car accident claims can be complex, especially if the crash occurred because of another driver’s negligent behavior in icy weather conditions. Having a skilled attorney to sort out details as you recover from your accident will work to your advantage.