Black ice is a hidden danger common to Connecticut during the winter months. This week, an icy glaze covered the roads around our Ridgefield office, causing one of our staff members to slide into the curb immediately after pulling out of the parking garage. This event demonstrates the two essential qualities of black ice that make it so hazardous:
- It is nearly impossible to see
- You can lose control of a motor vehicle and slide across black ice no matter how slow you are traveling
Icy conditions can create grave situations for pedestrians injured in slip-and-fall accidents or for motorists injured in motor vehicle accidents. This information shared by our injury attorneys at Hastings, Cohan & Walsh may help you avoid becoming the victim of this type of winter accident.
Black Ice Statistics
According to a ten-year average reported by the Federal Highway Administration, out of the 5,891,000 vehicle crashes that happen in the United States each year, approximately 1,016,450 are a result of wet and icy pavement.
These statistics show that such treacherous conditions cause a large percentage of vehicle crashes. In addition, the total number of injuries caused by slick pavement is likely higher when considering 1 million emergency room visits result from slip and fall accidents, according to the NFSI.
What Causes Black Ice & How to Prevent Black Ice Accidents
Navigating the roadways safely can be quite a challenge during the winter months with snow and ice alone. The addition of black ice can make this challenge close to impossible. Its name alone is a fallacy. It is, in fact, transparent, which is why it frequently goes undetected until it is too late. The best way to prevent a black ice accident is to be mindful of the factors that cause it.
Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures drop to this number or lower, any rain or water from melting snow freezes on the surface it covers. First and foremost, you should check the weather forecast and identify how cold the outside air is. It is often colder in the early morning and late evening, posing a challenge for the work or school commute. If you have the ability to stay home or wait for the temperature to rise, you should do so.
If you find that you must travel at a time where black ice is present, follow these tips:
Drive at an incredibly slow rate of speed with your vehicle's hazard lights turned on.
Avoid less traveled routes or routes with more shade, as they have a higher chance of being affected.
Pay attention to any persons or vehicles around you. If you see someone slip or slide, you will know an icy patch is ahead.
Take caution when crossing bridges or tunnels, as these are the first to freeze when wet.
Lastly, if you hit a patch of black ice and find yourself sliding, remain calm. Do not hit the brakes or turn the wheel rapidly, as this can cause the vehicle to spin out. Instead, always turn in the direction you are sliding until you are able to regain control. The best thing to do is to wait until you have passed over the ice completely.
What Should You Do After a Black Ice Accident?
Black ice cases present unique fact patterns and situations that require immediate investigation. If you have been injured in an accident that occurred because of black ice, either in a car or because you slipped and fell, then you need immediate legal representation.
One of the issues that might come up in your Connecticut snow and ice case is "foreseeable risk." The Connecticut jury instructions state as follows:
"To prove that an injury is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of negligent conduct, a plaintiff need not prove that the defendant actually foresaw or should have foreseen the extent of the harm suffered or the manner in which it occurred. Instead, the plaintiff must prove that it is a harm of the same general nature as that which a reasonably prudent person in the defendant's position should have anticipated, in view of what the defendant knew or should have known at the time of the negligent conduct."
Remember that insurance companies have a team of experts looking for ways to pay you the least amount of money possible for your case. Our firm has decades of experience in representing people who have been injured in snow and ice accidents as well as other types of premises liability and other accidents. As a result, we know how to determine who is responsible for your injuries and ensure you are compensated for your losses.
Property owners, and those who have the care, custody, and control of a property, have a responsibility to reasonably protect those on their property. Therefore, they may be held liable for the injuries and damages resulting from an accident caused by snow or ice due to their substandard care or negligence. In addition, the contractor responsible for removing the snow and ice hazard may also be held liable for an injured party's damages resulting from their negligence.