Bad Road Conditions- Who is Liable for Car Accident?
Curious about who is responsible for an accident during bad road conditions?
Many of us in Memphis went to bed last night expecting to wake up to a Winter Wonderland. While weather experts predicted several inches of snow and most local schools and businesses announced closures in advance, what we ended up with was just a small dusting of snow. Enough to make our neighborhoods sparkle, but not even enough to build a good snowman.
However, with all the warnings on the news to stay at home and avoid the roads, you might be wondering what the law is concerning car accidents that occur in icy or snowy conditions. What if another driver slides into you, causing significant damage to your car? What about the cars you always see speeding by in icy conditions, without a care in the world? Are they excused from liability just because of the road conditions?
Drivers Are Responsible, Even in Icy or Snowy Conditions
Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-8-136 requires drivers to exercise due care “under the existing circumstances” to avoid crashing into any other vehicle.
This duty was clarified by the Tennessee Court of Appeals in the case of MacLeod v. McKenzie. In MacLeod, a driver lost control of her car in wet road conditions. While the driver argued that she was driving carefully, she admitted that she was driving at or slightly above the speed limit and that she panicked and hit the brakes when her car started to slide. The injured party argued that the driver was driving too fast for the wet condition of the road (even if she was driving the speed limit), and in panicking and losing control of the car once it started to skid. The Court stated that the question of whether a driver exercised due care under the circumstances is a question of fact, which means that a jury should decide.
So, what’s the lesson for driving in bad road conditions?
If you are involved in an accident during bad road conditions, don’t just assume that the other driver is not at fault. Icy, snowy, or wet road conditions don’t provide a “get out of jail free” card for the other driver. Drivers in Tennessee are always responsible for their actions while driving, regardless of the road conditions. If a person chooses to drive when road conditions are bad, then he or she is responsible for driving safely and avoiding collisions.
The determination of who is legally responsible for the car accident will depend on a number of factors and there may not be a clear answer. Even if the other driver was going the speed limit, he or she may still be responsible for the collision, but an insurance adjuster is unlikely to tell you that. This is why you need an experienced lawyer on your side. If you need help with a car accident that occurred in rainy, snowy, or icy road conditions, call us at 901-372-5003. We know the law and we can help you maximize your claim.