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Can I File a Lawsuit if I’m Involved in an Accident Due to Snow or Ice on a Street?

snow covered car
Posted on Categories Blog

Throughout the United States, winter brings snow and ice to streets and sidewalks. Homeowners are responsible for clearing and sanding/salting areas on their property. City and town streets are maintained by state and local crews. When you’re driving or walking on snowy or icy streets, you do have to use caution, but it’s fair to assume the streets will be safe to use. What if they’re not? What happens if you are injured while using a town or city street?

You Have Several Things to Consider

This is a popular question in the winter and one that has to be carefully considered. Depending on your state/town/city’s regulations, the person responsible for maintaining streets and sidewalks may vary. For example, in a town, a state route or highway is often maintained by the state, but town roads are the town’s responsibility. On a private road that’s shared by neighbors, the association may be responsible for street maintenance. In some areas, homeowners must tend to the sidewalks in front of their home and their driveway. They must ensure that they do not blow or shovel snow into the street while doing so.

Keeping that in mind, you next have to look at whether the responsible party was negligent. Was there time for that party to get out and get the street cleared and sanded or salted. If the road crew is handling miles and miles of roads, it’s expected that it will take the truck time to do one area and move to the next. Even if the crew was lax at clearing or deicing the street you fell on, there are other factors. Were you in boots designed for walking in wintry weather or were you wearing shoes with no tread? If you were driving, did you have good tires? Were you driving at a reasonable speed for the conditions?

If you’re reasonably certain someone was negligent, you have to decide who it was. It may not be the town, city, or state. Private streets in a condo, apartment, or shopping complex are maintained why whoever the association or property owner hires. This is the person you’ll file a claim against. If you were walking and another driver lost control and hit you, the driver may be the negligent party. Bald tires, speeding, or distracted driving are all possible factors. You’d file a claim against that driver.

Situations Where Negligence is Clear

Proving negligence is key to filing a personal injury case after an accident on icy or snowy roads. Negligence has to be clear. The general assumption is that driving or walking on wintry roads comes with risk. If you opt to go out despite that risk, you’re to blame. There are exceptions. Here are a few examples.

A homeowner has his driveway paved and it’s not set up to drain correctly. Melting snow and rain run right down the driveway and into the road. During the night, that melting snow and rain freeze and form black ice. The homeowner could be liable for your accident because the paved driveway was not designed correctly.

A private plow pushes snow across a roadway and into a ditch. It leaves a mound of snow across the road that causes your car to drift and hit a car coming the other way. That private plow driver could be liable. Some towns and cities have strict laws against pushing snow from a driveway across the road, and that would help back up your claim.

It snowed two days ago. Traffic has packed down the snow, but the town still hasn’t come out and taken care of the road. The packed snow is icy and several cars have slid off. Despite complaints, the town still hasn’t spread sand or salt to give cars better traction. If this is the case, you could have a valid case against the town.

What If You Still Want to File a Complaint?

If you’re in an accident with another vehicle, whether it’s on foot or in your car, have the police file a report. You’ll want that paperwork when you file an accident claim with your auto insurance. If the other driver was all or partially to blame, your insurance company will advise you on what happens next.

If you’re a pedestrian, you’ll file a claim with the driver’s auto insurance company. If that driver doesn’t have auto insurance, you need to file a personal injury claim against the driver as quickly as possible. You don’t want to have medical bills stacking up that you can’t afford without restitution. Your health insurance may absorb some of the costs in the meantime.

Keep track of all the paperwork. This includes medical bills, accident reports, and witness statements. If you have photos of the road conditions, keep those with the rest of the paperwork. The more evidence you have proving that someone was negligent at maintaining the roads, the more success you’ll have.

As for filing a personal injury claim when you’re injured on snowy or icy roads, it’s best to ask an expert. Proving negligence is difficult, especially if you’re inexperienced. Don’t take chances. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to see if you have a case. The attorneys at Trial Lawyers for Justice have an exceptional winning record with more than 300 successful jury verdicts. They’ve secured a total of more than $1.5 billion for the injured and their families. It doesn’t cost you anything to talk to an attorney. Call 866-TL4J-LAW now.

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Trial by Human

Nick Rowley founded Trial by Human, a nationwide legal education course to help trial lawyers improve their skills in the courtroom by "being human".