Who is At Fault for a Car Accident in Bad Weather?

We all know Kansas City weather can turn on a dime. I was golfing a few weeks ago and scraping ice off the windshields last week. When winter weather strikes, it can catch Missouri drivers off guard. Black ice, rapidly changing road conditions, and limited visibility can contribute to drivers losing control and causing an accident, resulting in serious personal injury and even death. But who is really at fault for a car accident during snow or ice conditions? The nasty winter weather, or the driver operating the vehicle in that weather?

Weather conditions are just one factor to consider in determining fault, and assessing your ability to recover, if you are injured in a car or truck accident during bad weather. Fault in Missouri is based on a finding of negligence against one or more drivers involved. Negligence regarding operation of a motor vehicle is defined as “the failure to use the highest degree of care”.

R.S.Mo. § 304.012 – Every person operating a motor vehicle on the roads and highways of this state shall drive the vehicle in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed so as not to endanger the property of another or the life or limb of any person and shall exercise the highest degree of care.

Have you ever heard someone involved in a car accident during a snow or ice storm say, “There was nothing I could do! The roads were so slick!”? Despite what they may say or believe, slick roads are usually not the ultimate cause of an accident. Some other factors they may not be considering include:

  • Was the driver caught in a snow or ice storm unexpectedly, or have the weather conditions actually existed all day?
  • Was the driver following the car in front too closely for the conditions?
  • Was the driver going too fast for the conditions on the roadway?
  • Was the driver using his or her phone at the time of the accident?
  • Are the driver’s vehicle and tires in good working condition for the winter weather roads?

Although snow and ice are a factor to consider when determining fault, they are only one factor among many. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to ask the right questions to determine the relevant facts specific to your accident, and not let a negligent driver get away with blaming it on the weather.