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Cochran Firm Blog, Philadelphia

Auto Accidents Related To Winter Weather And How To Determine Liability

winter car accident

Liability is important in a car accident because it determines who is required to pay compensation to the other party, and how much. Liability can get a little complicated however and isn’t necessarily an all-or-nothing deal. In many situations, one driver is mostly at fault, but the other driver is a little at fault. 

For example, say a driver blew through a stop sign and ended up colliding with another driver. BUT, the other driver was distracted and took his eyes off the road for a few seconds. In this case, the second driver might be somewhat at fault, although probably not as much as the guy that ran a stop sign. This is important to note because it may affect the compensation coming out of the car accident.

Determining Liability

Insurance Adjuster

Liability can be tricky to determine during a car accident, but it’s essential to understand since it can have a huge effect on the outcome of your insurance claim.

First off, however, let’s address bad weather conditions. Many people assume that bad weather offers you some kind of excuse for driving mistakes, but this is typically not true. Just because you slid across the ice and hit another driver from behind doesn’t mean that it’s not your fault.

The one thing to keep in mind is that drivers are expected to modify their driving to adjust for bad weather conditions. Meaning that if you are driving without headlights on during heavy fog or storm, you might be considered as not having taken the proper precautions, and therefore more at-fault for any accidents as a result of not having your headlights on.

Next, let’s talk about the process of how fault is determined. To start with, remember to always keep any relevant information related to the car accident.

Typically, a truck accident attorney will be involved as an insurance adjuster is assigned to your case after you file the claim related to your accident. The adjuster will then collect all of the possible information and evidence information to determine who is at fault. This may include collecting the police report, interviewing involved parties, and assessing photos of the scene/damage.

The adjuster or adjusters (since both parties’ insurance companies will most likely be involved) will then reach a conclusion regarding who’s at fault for the accident. They’ll consider things like whether or not any traffic laws were broken, as well as which car did the colliding.

Fault VS No-Fault States

When talking about liability, it’s important to mention the difference between an at-fault and a no-fault state.

Generally speaking, in an at-fault state, the decision of which of the parties is responsible for the accident is very important. That is because at-fault states typically require the party that is mostly to blame for the accident to compensate the other person.

In a no-fault state, however, this might not matter nearly as much. That is because no-fault states have a policy requiring each party’s insurance to pay their own damages.

In other words, say Bob and Alice get into a car accident on the highway, and Bob is 70% at fault. If Bob and Alice live in an at-fault state, Bob’s insurance will be paying for most of Alice’s damages. If however, they live in a no-fault state, Alice’s own insurance will most likely be paying for her damages, and Bob’s insurance will be paying for his.

Now, Pennsylvania is actually considered something else – a “choice” state. This is the third category of states that allow drivers to choose what type of policy to purchase. 

Minor Car Accident

First off, regardless of whether you’ve been in a major car accident or a small fender-bender, you should still call 911. Once on the phone, the dispatcher can assess whether or not the accident is large enough to require a police response. 

In the case that there are absolutely no injuries and the cars involved have sustained very minimal damage, the police may simply have you report the accident yourself. In this case, follow all directions carefully and don’t forget to file any reports required by the police.

Major Car Accident

Smashed Car in Car Accident

In the case of a major car accident with injuries, the police will most likely choose to respond to the scene. In this case, they may take statements and photographs of the scene. If the police officers fill out an accident report, make sure to ask where you can obtain a copy. Your insurance company may require it later on.

Car Accident Injury

Winter accidents often result in some kind of injury. After all, icy roads and cars can make a deadly combination. If you are injured during a car accident, make sure to call 911 as soon as possible. In the case that you are heavily injured, however, try not to move much in case it exacerbates your injuries. 

Get to a safer location whenever possible, such as off to the side of the road. Remember, roads are often slippery during the winter, and visibility can be bad, meaning that cars behind you might have a hard time seeing you.

Car Accident Lawyers

It is always best to hire a car accident lawyer following an auto accident. Keep in mind that your insurance company is not a substitute for a real lawyer. A lawyer can help you file the appropriate paperwork on time and make sure that you get compensated for any injuries. 

The Cochran Firm Philadelphia office is happy to offer our services. Simply call to set up an appointment with us.

Common Questions

Here are a few answers to common questions related to winter auto accidents.

How Many People Die In Car Accidents Every Year?

According to the CDC, a whopping “37,595 motor vehicle traffic deaths occurred” in the US in 2019 alone. That’s a huge number. Auto accidents are incredibly common. That’s why it’s so important to wear a seatbelt at all times, follow traffic laws, and drive carefully.

What To Do After A Car Accident?

First of all, don’t panic if you find yourself in a car accident. Auto accidents are very common in the US.

The most important thing is to stay at the scene and not drive away. Following that, check to see if anyone’s injured and call 911 as soon as possible. 

If you are severely injured, try not to move too much. Otherwise, try to get to safety if at all possible, and wait for help to arrive.

Take down as much information as possible – the other driver’s name, phone number, insurance information, and ask for a copy of the accident report. If possible, try to get photos of the accident as well. Your insurance company will likely require all of this information later on.

Last but not least, don’t forget to call for roadside assistance to tow your car and get you home safe.

Note: Don’t forget to notify your insurance company of the accident. They may need you to file a claim.

What To Do After A Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault?

Regardless of whether or not the accident was your fault, you still need to stay at the scene of the accident and call for help. Your insurance company can figure out whether or not you are at fault later on.

Cochran Firm Philadelphia

It’s always a good idea to consult with a legal expert following an auto accident. A lawyer can help you file the correct paperwork and ensure that you follow the appropriate steps after your accident. Moreover, a lawyer gives you a better chance of being appropriately compensated and protected in the case that a lawsuit is filed. 

Aside from auto accidents, our firm also handles cases related to personal injury, police misconduct, construction accidents, premise liability, and much more.

Regardless of your situation, don’t hesitate to reach out for advice. 

Choose a lawyer that cares. Choose the Cochran Firm. Our lawyers are not only highly qualified, but they treat clients with the care that they deserve. The Cochran Firm Philadelphia office is more than happy to stand beside you. Simply call or go online to book your consultation with us.