Ice, Snow, Weather Conditions And Their Impact On Fault In A Motor Vehicle Personal Injury Case?
Any personal injury attorney that tries case and has been around for a while has had one of these. The conventional wisdom is that if you are hit in the rear in a car accident, it’s the other driver’s fault.
Whoa- not so fast there, counselor! The emergency doctrine is a tool available to adjusters, defense lawyers, or the inclined jurist, to deny recovery to a personal injury victim.
The argument frequently comes up when the involved cars are on icy, snowy or slick roads, and collide. The argument, akin to the ‘act of god’ type of defense, is that the striking driver had no ability to avoid the collision, due to the elements.
The skilled plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer should retort that icy roads do not equal defense verdicts, per se. The law still imposes a duty to act reasonably under the circumstances.
The presence of an “emergency” does not remove the duty, but the analysis is different. A person under an impending exigency is not held, in hindsight, to the same standard a person, not in an emergent situation, who may have the benefit of thought and calculation. But, one cannot claim the benefit of an emergency they created. So, the argument goes, if a driver is careening down an icy road, and unable to stop before hitting the car in front, was not that driver driving to fast for conditions to begin with, and, was not that act of driving too fast for conditions an act of negligence that caused the accident.
If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident that involves snow, ice, sleet, rain, or some combination of the elements, do not let an insurance adjuster’s denial of your claim dissuade you. Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.