FHWA reports over 1 million car accidents are weather related

Winter conditions can contribute to accidents, but drivers may still be liable.

The United States Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has a number of different programs designed to help keep our roadways safe. One is the Road Weather Management Program. This program not only reports on the impact of roadway conditions on driving, but also promotes ways to mitigate tragic accidents that can result from poor weather.

How common are weather related accidents? Any issue that results in the development of a government program is likely a large one. This is true when it comes to the impact of weather on car accidents. The FHWA reports that there are over 1 million car accidents attributed to poor weather conditions every year. 1,259,000 to be precise. This translates to an approximate 6,000 deaths and 445,000 injuries to drivers and passengers on an annual basis.

The term "weather related" is used to encompass everything from fog and rain to serious blizzards and hurricane force winds.

What are the statistics for winter related accidents? Winter related accidents include those that result from ice, snow and sleet as well as slushy roadways. On average, there are over 500,000 winter related accidents every year. This leads to approximately 1,800 deaths and 130,000 injuries.

Are there legal remedies for winter car crashes? Those who are injured or lose a loved one to injuries suffered in a car accident often have recourse through a civil suit. This generally falls into an area of law known as personal injury.

Drivers that lose control of their vehicles while navigating poor weather conditions are often liable for any resulting accident. The legal theory of negligence would likely apply.

How does the theory of negligence work in winter weather related car accidents? There are four key components to establishing that a driver was negligent: duty, breach, causation and damage. Every driver has a duty to operate a vehicle in a safe manner. States generally have laws that require drivers to adapt their driving to the conditions. If the speed limit is 45 mph but there is no visibility due to snow, a driver is expected to slow down to a safer speed for the conditions. A failure to do so would breach this duty.

Should victims seek legal counsel? Victims of car wrecks are generally wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney experienced in ice and snow accident claims can provide guidance throughout the process. Your lawyer will tailor a claim to your specific case, better ensuring your interests and right to legal remedies is protected.