Winter weather conditions, including snow, ice, and sleet, increase the risk of car crashes in Oklahoma. According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, winter weather is responsible for 24% of all motor vehicle accidents.
Oklahoma is no stranger to adverse weather conditions in winter, which is why it is essential to understand how winter weather can affect liability in your car accident case.
Schedule a free consultation with our Ponca City car accident attorneys at BDIW Law if you or your family member has been involved in a weather-related accident.
Causes of Winter Weather Car Accidents
The causes of car crashes that occur in the winter months vary greatly. Factors that cause or contribute to weather-related car accidents in Oklahoma include:
- Reduced visibility
- Potholes hidden under snow and ice
- Accumulation of snow on roadways
- Black ice
- Slippery unsalted roads
- Unplowed roadways
- Ice and snow flying off vehicles
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Other Factors That Contribute to Car Accidents in Winter
Car accidents can be related to adverse weather conditions or can result from driver errors that have nothing to do with weather conditions.
Common factors associated with motor vehicle accidents in winter include:
- Driving too fast for road or weather conditions
- Driving while intoxicated
- Poor road conditions
- Driver inexperience
- Distracted driving
- Problems with the vehicle or defective automobile parts
While winter weather can impact liability in your car accident case, bad weather conditions should never be an excuse for not taking reasonable precautions.
When it comes to determining liability for a weather-related car accident, Oklahoma courts and insurance companies will examine how a reasonable person would have acted in a similar situation.
Reasonable Duty of Care in Winter Weather Car Accidents
Winter weather and adverse conditions require motorists to take extra reasonable precautions to avoid causing collisions. In other words, something that would be considered “reasonable” in good weather conditions may not be reasonable in bad weather conditions.
For example, if it would be reasonable to drive at 60 mph in good weather, it may not be reasonable to drive at over 30 mph in winter weather on the same stretch of the road due to the risk of hydroplaning.
In addition, drivers must increase the following distance between vehicles when driving in adverse weather conditions to maintain a safe stopping distance.
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Negligence in Winter Weather Car Accidents
The following behaviors may be considered negligent when operating a motor vehicle in winter weather:
- Driving too fast for weather conditions
- Not clearing the vehicle’s windshield and windows
- Driving with malfunctioning lights
- Driving with lights turned off
- Not maintaining an increased following distance between vehicles
- Not changing to winter tires designed for slippery roads
Keep in mind that Oklahoma is a modified comparative negligence state (23 OK Stat § 23-13). Under the statute, drivers who share liability for accidents can recover damages as long as the other party was mostly at fault. In other words, if your car accident occurred in winter weather, you cannot be more than 50% responsible for the crash to seek compensation.
Speak with our experienced car accident attorneys in Tulsa to determine liability in your weather-related crash. Let our attorneys at BDIW Law protect your rights and preserve evidence in your car accident case. Call 918-728-6500 for a free case evaluation.
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