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You Can’t Always Blame The Weather

Winter is a time when most of the United States experiences frost, snow, ice, and other forms of frozen water that make it difficult to drive. Snow can even fall as far south as Florida, although what little of it shows up does so in the panhandle region. Still, if you were to describe slippery conditions, most Florida drivers who’d had to drive through a rainstorm would know exactly what you were talking about.

And with more treacherous roads comes a higher risk of accidents, both the kind where you careen off the road and the kind where you skid into other vehicles. But how can you determine fault when Mother Nature is foremost to blame?

Preexisting Conditions

Unfortunately for drivers, courts and insurance companies are generally unsympathetic to people who claim that the weather is the reason they skidded into an intersection or fell off an embankment. The fact is that the presence of ice, snow, or driving rain should be obvious to anyone with enough eyesight to legally drive a car, and so it’s a driver’s responsibility to adjust his or her driving habits to compensate for adverse weather.

That said, you won’t always get the harshest possible ruling because you slipped during slippery conditions. Particularly in the Southern states where ice and snow are less frequent, you’re more likely to come across a sympathetic ear and get a better ruling since fewer local drivers know how to drive on slippery roads. That said, “better” isn’t the same as “without fault,” so you should still expect a rate boost on your insurance afterwards.

Private Property

Of course, the rules change once again when an accident occurs on private property. Property owners (and those who occupy a property) have a duty of care to ensure that the property is kept clear of dangerous conditions, and that includes icy or otherwise slippery sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots.

Thus, while you’re still partially at fault for slipping on an obviously slippery sidewalk or road, you may also be able to assign some blame to a sidewalk or street owner who didn’t clear his or her property to a reasonable extent. After all, it’s one thing to watch your step so you don’t slip on a small patch of refrozen water, but it’s much harder to keep your feet under you when the only thing to walk on is rough layer of uneven ice.

Aside from ice, snow, and rain, there is one more condition that can make roads more treacherous: blowing sand. Roads and parking lots near sandy beaches can sometimes fill up with sand and lose all traction with no water in sight, and if a property owner can’t get rid of the sand or make it safer somehow, he or she may be at least partly to blame for an accident.

If you live in southwest Florida, particularly in or around Sarasota and Port Charlotte, and if you think that road conditions weren’t fully taken into account for a car accident you were in, try contacting the All Injuries Law Firm for a free case review. We’ll do our best to see to it you get the compensation you deserve from an accident, vehicle or otherwise.