UNDERSTANDING LIABILITY FOR WINTER DRIVING ACCIDENTS
We all know that living in Colorado brings with it all kinds of weather—from sunny days and blue skies to snow and ice. Unfortunately, the months of winter weather make for dangerous driving conditions. If you’ve been affected by a winter driving accident, it’s imperative you know how to get compensated, and much of this is based on how liability is determined. From our Lone Tree and Trinidad, Colorado locations we’re here to help you with insurance settlements and personal injury claims. Here at Landry Law, P.C. you’ll find experienced legal guidance you can count on.
Colorado is an At-Fault State
The first thing to understand about your options after a car accident is that Colorado is an at-fault state, meaning you must file a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance instead of your own. This may cover your expenses if the other driver is properly insured, but oftentimes the costs of injuries and property damages can be more than an insurance company wants to settle for. Additionally, if the at-fault driver was under or uninsured, you’ve suddenly got a more complicated road ahead of you. In either of these cases, you may need help filing a personal injury claim to make sure your expenses are covered.
Liability for Weather-Related Negligent Behavior
Because our state sees a lot of winter weather, there are a number of laws that address safe driving depending on the conditions of the road. An insurance settlement will consider all of these when reviewing a claim to try to determine how much the driver was at fault and how much was weather-related.
Speed (CRS section 42-4-1101 (1)): In addition to obeying posted speed limits at all times, drivers are also expected to slow down when a “special hazard exists,” such as dangerous road conditions due to weather.
Reckless and Careless Driving (CRS section 42-4-1401, 42-4-1402): These two provisions outline a driver’s responsibility to exercise care and caution when driving to avoid causing harm to those around them.
Following Too Closely (CRS section 42-4-1008 (1)): All drivers must leave enough room between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them for safe stopping, passing, or overtaking, and must take into account the speed vehicles are moving and the conditions of the road.
Colorado also has in place certain rules to increase roadway safety during the winter months. While these can’t ensure there won’t ever be a weather-related car accident, they can reduce the number of crashes and injuries.
Colorado Chain Law: From September 1 to May 31, all commercial vehicles must carry chains, and all passenger vehicles must carry chains or alternate traction devices (ATD) when weather restrictions are in place.
Minimum Tire Tread: All passenger vehicles must have a tire tread depth of 3/16”.
Tips for Driving in Winter Weather
The best way to prevent accidents on the road is to be alert and cautious. When there’s snow or ice present, be extra vigilant. Simple acts like ensuring your car is free of snow or ice that could impede visibility or shifting to a lower gear when driving downhill can help. Whenever you’re driving in winter weather, you should also ensure your car is in good working order and double-check you have enough oil and gas. Finally, always carry emergency items like a first-aid kit, jumper cables, tire chains, and road flares or reflective signs.
Experienced Colorado Personal Injury Attorneys
Communicating with an insurance company to reach a settlement is never a straightforward task, and this is especially true when they need to determine which factors were weather-related and which were the driver’s fault. We can help you negotiate with the insurance company to reach a fair agreement. If we have to, we can also help you file a personal injury claim.
Car Accidents Attorney in Lone Tree, Colorado
If you or a loved one has recently been injured as the result of a car accident, especially if there were hazardous winter road conditions involved, you need someone who understands the nuances of Colorado laws and how to best work with insurance providers. We’re proud to help clients throughout the Denver area including Lone Tree, Castle Pines, and Castle Rock, as well as further south in Trinidad. Contact us today to get started.