While most of us use extra caution when driving on snowy or slushy roads, it’s those clear stretches of black pavement that can be the most dangerous because of the slippery conditions they cause.
Auto accident attorneys in Sioux Falls know that these accidents can be particularly dangerous as they often involve vehicles sliding off the road or into oncoming traffic. These conditions can significantly increase the risk of serious and life-threatening injuries.
Black ice may form whenever moisture is present and the temperature falls below 32 degrees. According to a recent article in the New York Times, there are clues indicating that black ice may be ahead such as slightly darker pavement,
South Dakota Winter Accidents: Dealing With Black Ice
Last January's ice storm brought treacherous conditions to most of South Dakota. As KSFY reported, black ice increased the risk for motorists throughout the Sioux Falls area.
This winter has begun the same way. Black ice is most likely to form first on bridges, overpasses, exit ramps, and other areas where freezing wind can reach beneath the roadway. Motorists are reminded that even four-wheel drive vehicles are of no benefit once a driver hits a sheet of ice.
AAA offers numerous safety tips for drivers, including:
- Avoid unnecessary lane changes.
- Drive, turn, and brake slowly.
- Adjust your speed slowly, plan for increased stopping distance, and leave extra room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
- Avoid braking on ice. Try to control the skid by easing off the accelerator and steering in the direction you want to go.
- Don’t pump the brake pedal if you have anti-lock brakes. The brake pedal's pulsing and vibrating show that the anti-lock brakes are working. Apply firm, steady pressure when braking.
- Use low-beam headlights, which offer better visibility in inclement weather.
Liability in Winter Traffic Collisions
Bad weather does not alleviate drivers of the responsibility to exercise due care. However, traffic collisions blamed on weather may impact your auto accident claim. Carefully documenting the scene is an important first step. Contacting an auto accident attorney can help you gather critical evidence to support your claim before the weather changes and the evidence melts away.
South Dakota law, SD Codified L § 20-9-1 (2013), allows for liability on the part of at-fault parties through willful or negligent acts, stating, “Every person is responsible for injury to the person, property or rights of another caused by his willful acts or caused by his want of ordinary care or skill.”
However, under state law, Code Section 20-9-2, South Dakota allows for injury claims involving contributory negligence only as long as the plaintiff’s negligence is “slight.” It’s one of the tougher laws in the nation. The plaintiffs found more than “slightly” at fault may find their access to recovery is completely barred as contributory negligence is a recognized defense.
The bottom line is winter car accidents can be challenging from a proof of liability standpoint. Hiring a knowledgeable, dedicated auto accident attorney is key to bolstering your chances of compensation.