Protecting Yourself in Texas Winter Weather
It’s winter in Texas. While that rarely means snow, it’s not that unusual for motorists in Texas to encounter the challenges of driving on icy roads. Unfortunately, rain can turn to ice in an instant. What are the consequences when you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident on an icy road in the middle of a Texas winter? Who is responsible for damages and how is liability determined?
Liability for Accidents on Icy Texas Roads
The first thing to understand is that it will never be an effective defense to liability to claim that there was ice on the road. Whenever you get behind the wheel of a car, there is an assumption that you will act reasonably. That means that you’ll take all known factors (or those that you should reasonably know about) into consideration and respond as a reasonable person would. Accordingly, if temperatures are in the mid-30s and dropping, and it’s either raining or there’s precipitation likely, it’s reasonable to expect that the precipitation could cause ice to accumulate on the road.
The legal theory under which liability for an ice-related accident will be resolved is “negligence.” To prove negligence, an injured party must show three things:
- That the at-fault person breached the duty of care—i.e., did not act reasonably
- That the breach caused an accident
- That the injured person suffered losses as a result of the accident
What Constitutes “Reasonable” Behavior When Texas Roads become Icy?
It’s also important to know that there’s no hard and fast rule regarding the actions a person must take when Texas roads become icy. What will be considered “reasonable” behavior is typically determined by a jury on a case-by-case basis. It will usually vary based on the circumstances:
- How much advance warning did the motorist have of impending ice on the road?
- Why was the motorist on the road? Was it an emergency or an optional trip?
- Did the motorist take any measures to respond to the ice—reduced speed, use of emergency flashers or warning lights, etc.?
The Best Ways to Avoid Motor Vehicle Accidents on Icy Texas Roads
Obviously, the sure way to avoid a car crash on an icy road is to stay off the roads. In the winter in Texas, it’s always a good idea to check drivetexas.org before you head out. If you have any reason to believe there will be precipitation, pay close attention to your speed, always staying below the limit, as you’ll need more distance to stop. Make certain there’s no accumulation of ice or snow on any of your windows, so that you can see all other motorists. Furthermore, if at all possible, avoid hills, bridges and deep valleys, as those are places where you can easily lose control.
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an experienced Texas personal injury attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.