Most people realize that if they have been in a serious car or truck accident accident due to the negligence or recklessness of another person, they have a right to recover damages for their injuries and other expenses. The availability of these compensatory damages can allow an injured plaintiff to make himself or herself whole. However, what many people do not realize is that the weather conditions surrounding the accident can affect one’s liability and, perhaps, give rise to a viable cause of action where one may not have otherwise existed.
Engaging in a close and careful review of your car or truck accident with an experienced Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer can prevent you from unknowingly sitting on a viable claim and losing the right to bring suit through the passage of time alone. To discuss your legal options contact the Kieklak Law Office by calling (479) 316-0438.
Must a driver take special care during a winter storm?
Yes, as conditions change a driver must adapt his or her conduct so that his or her manner of driving is safe for the conditions present. Arkansas state law holds that, “No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.” AR Code § 27-51-201(a)(1). This provision essentially enshrines into law the fact that drivers must modify their driving so that it is safe for the conditions present. For instance, while it would generally be safe to travel just below the maximum speed limit in clear conditions, the same could not be said for severe or inclement weather. Snow, rain, ice or even fog could require a driver to modify his or her driving habits.
The code also states that, “In every event, speed shall be so controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.” AR Code § 27-51-201(a)(2). Thus, the law also explicitly states a motorist’s obligation to adhere to all legal requirements and appropriate standards of due care. The failure to adhere to these statutes may constitute negligence per se and the other driver may be liable for your injuries.
In Wilson v. Kobera, a driver was driving when the road was partially glazed with ice. She apparently lost control of her vehicle, spun-out, and came to rest in a diagonal position alongside the roadway. She made a call from a nearby residence for help and then waited in her vehicle with its lights on. Soon another motorist passed the disabled vehicle and offered to help. It is undisputed that the space to park was narrow, but witnesses disagreed as to whether there was enough room for another vehicle to pass. Some testified that there was not enough room to go-around while others testified that, “there was enough room you could have driven a tractor-trailer rig…between them. There was plenty of room between them.”
Another driver came over a ridge and saw the headlights of the stopped vehicles. He claimed that he was travelling at 30 and 35 miles per an hour when asked at different times. At the driver’s rate of speed in these weather conditions it was estimated that the stopping distance was at least 80 feet. In light of these findings the court wrote:
The jury may well have found that the proximate cause of the collision was the appellee’s speed of 30 miles per hour on a road glazed with ice. There was substantial evidence to that effect. There was testimony that the stopping distance, including reaction time, on a clean road is 80 feet, and there was testimony that one should not have driven on this road with ice at any more than 15 miles per hour. The appellee testified that he applied his brakes about two car lengths, or about 20 feet, before he reached the parked truck and began skidding on the ice. The jury had substantial evidence by which it could have found that the truck was as far as 75 feet from Miss Hurley’s car and that, at the speed of 30 miles per hour, appellee simply skidded on the ice into the Hurley car…
Thus, while under normal conditions it may be reasonable to drive at 30 to 35 miles per an hour on this roadway, under adverse weather conditions it was not. The driver was traveling at a speed that was greater than was reasonable for the conditions present. Further, the driver failed to control his or her speed to an extent that would have prevented the accident. Such negligent acts in violation of state law may constitute negligence per se and are likely to create liability for injuries.
Put our personal injury experience to work for you in Arkansas
At the Law Practice of Ken Kieklak we are dedicated to holding reckless or careless individuals financially accountable for your injuries. With more than 20 years of experience, you can rely on our legal advice. To schedule your free and confidential car or truck accident consultation call (479) 316-0438 or contact us online today.