Our region has experienced some turbulent weather recently. Two nor’easters within days of each other have slammed Philadelphia and the surrounding counties with heavy rain and snow. As a result, there were numerous car accidents due to the snow, ice and precipitation on the roads. Many cars slid off the road and crashed into other cars on the road, and school buses slid off the streets and ended up in ditches.
Liability in Winter Car Accidents in Philadelphia
Even though the wintry road conditions contributed to many Philadelphia car accidents, it does not mean that no one is at fault. Many drivers are surprised to find out that they may still be at fault if they caused a Philadelphia car accident during wintry road conditions.
Unfortunately, drivers cannot always blame the weather for car accidents. Pursuant to Pennsylvania car accident law, drivers have a duty to drive carefully and safely at all times. Consider the following example: It is snowing which causes the roads to be quite slippery. Driver A is in a hurry to get home and does not slow down for the road conditions. Rather than staying in one lane, Driver A changes lanes multiple times to pass the cars in front of him. The last time Driver A attempts to change lanes, he hits a patch of ice causing his car to spin out of control. As a result, Driver A hits Driver B in the adjacent lane. Even though the ice may have caused his car to slide, Driver A is still responsible because he was driving negligently, i.e., driving too fast for the road conditions. Drivers should know that when there is snow and ice, roads are slippery and may be dangerous. Drivers need to drive carefully, i.e., slow down due to the road conditions. Therefore, Driver A is still responsible for the car accident.
Multi-Vehicle Car Accidents in Philadelphia Due to Snow
Philadelphia car accidents due to slippery roads often involve multiple vehicles. Let’s continue to use the above example. After Driver A hits Driver B, his car continues to spin, travels into traffic coming from the opposite direction and hits Driver C’s car. Driver C’s car is then pushed to another lane and hits Driver D’s car. In such a case, Driver A is responsible for the multi-vehicle car accident. Even though Driver C’s car hits Driver D, Driver A is still responsible because Driver A’s negligent driving caused Driver C’s car to hit Driver D.
Financial Compensation in Multi-Vehicle Car Accidents Due to Snow
If one driver is responsible for a multi-vehicle car accident in Philadelphia, a question injured victims may have is will there be enough insurance coverage to financially compensate all of the injured parties? The answer is it depends on the amount of coverage of the at-fault driver and the severity of the victims’ injuries. Using the above multi-vehicle example, let’s assume Driver A, the at-fault driver, has liability coverage of $100,000/$300,000. This means that the insurance company will pay up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 for the entire accident. Drivers B and C both have damages totaling $100,000 each. In such a case they would receive $100,000. Therefore, the insurance company would pay victims a total of $200,000.
What happens if a victim’s damage amount is greater than the at-fault driver’s liability coverage? Let’s change one fact in the above example. Instead of $100,000 in damages, Driver B’s damages total $200,000. In such a case, Driver B will still receive $100,000 from Driver A. Does that mean Driver B is out of luck and cannot recover for the other $100,000 of his damages? Not necessarily, Driver B’s own policy might provide coverage for the other $100,000.
If Driver B has UIM (Underinsured Motorist) coverage, Driver B can file a claim with his own insurance company to recover the remaining damages, up to the amount of coverage purchased. UIM coverage comes into play when the at-fault driver’s liability coverage is not enough to compensate a victim’s damages. Continuing with the same above example, if Driver B has $100,000 in UIM coverage, then he may file a claim to recover the $100,000. Driver B would be fully compensated for his injuries and damages. However, if Driver B does not have UIM coverage, then he will not be fully compensated because he is only able to recover $100,000 from the at-fault driver.
For a detailed discussion of UIM, see Philadelphia Car Accidents – What is Underinsured Motorist/Uninsured Motorist (UIM/UM) Coverage?
Help from a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer After a Philadelphia Car Accident
If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident due to snowy or icy road conditions, call Jordan Namerow, Esq. to schedule an initial consultation. Mr. Namerow always offers FREE initial consultations and has helped numerous Philadelphia car accident victims. 215.985.0777