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Who is At Fault for a Car Accident Caused by Snow or Black Ice?

Klein Frank, P.C.

During a Colorado winter – and, in some places in the state, even during the summer – snow and black ice on the road can pose serious hazards to drivers. Even careful, defensive drivers can get caught off-guard by a sudden patch of black ice or an unexpected patch of fresh snow around a bend. Because wintry road conditions can be such a challenge to navigate, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault for a car accident that happens in the snow or on black ice.

You Can’t Blame Ice for a Car Accident

For the most part, insurance companies will blame one driver or another – or possibly both – for a car accident, not icy conditions. No matter how bad the weather might be, the argument is made that a driver is always to blame for a crash because they decided to drive in those conditions in the first place.

Imagine that you rounded a corner, hit a patch of black ice, and slid uncontrollably off the road and into a parked car. People would probably tell you that the crash was not your fault because it “could happen to anyone.” But the truth is that it happened to you, which is exactly how an insurer will see it. The snow or black ice can’t accept blame, so only you remain to be named the at-fault party for the crash.

Who Lost Control First?

What happens if you get into a multicar collision caused by black ice or snow on the road? Liability will be even more complicated, but it won’t be impossible to figure out who is at fault. With a careful investigation of the available evidence, an attorney might uncover who lost control of their vehicle first. When establishing liability, insurance adjusters normally say whoever lost control first is at fault, even if someone else makes a more egregious driving error next.

You might be able to prove that another driver lost control on the snow or ice first with:

  • Dashcam or traffic cam footage
  • Eyewitness testimonies
  • Statements from the other driver
  • Police reports

Keep in mind that someone who lost control of their vehicle first while driving on snow or ice is not guaranteed to receive all or even most of the liability. Instead, liability could be divided among all drivers and parties. For example, you might have lost control of your car first, but, if the other driver was drunk, fatigued, or distracted, then they might still be the most at fault for the crash.

Colorado uses a modified comparative negligence law that makes it more difficult to demand compensation for a car accident when liability is split. Specifically, a plaintiff can’t make a recovery if their liability is equal to or greater than the collective fault of the other parties. If you were in a two-car collision on a road with black ice, and you and the other driver are both 50% liable, then Colorado law would prevent either of you from pursuing a claim. Each state has different comparative negligence laws, though, so it’s important to work with a local attorney.

Need help proving fault for a snow or black ice accident in Colorado? Klein Frank, P.C. is the only name you need to know. We can amplify your voice and pursue fair compensation on your behalf, just as we have done for countless other plaintiffs throughout our years of practice experience. Call (303) 622-3876 to arrange a complimentary consultation. We have offices in Boulder and Basalt but represent clients throughout the state.

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