Articles Posted in Weather Related Accidents

Those who have lived through an Indiana winter know that driving during the winter months can be a challenging experience. As a whole, Indiana gets over two feet of snow per year; however, certain areas in the north part of the state can see over five feet of snow per year. On top of that, Indiana gets over 42 inches of rain each year. Combine these levels of precipitation with the cold temperatures of an Indiana winter, and the result are icy roads that can be difficult to navigate, even at slow speeds. Not surprisingly, according to the most recent state government statistics, most Indiana car accidents occur in January.

Notwithstanding the difficulties that nasty weather can present, Indiana drivers have an obligation to always drive carefully. Drivers must take into account the weather conditions when getting behind the wheel and adjust their driving tendencies accordingly. For example, motorists should slow down and give other vehicles more room during times of inclement weather or reduced visibility. Despite this requirement, there were over 8,200 Indiana car accidents in 2018, where the cause was listed as, “speeding too fast for weather conditions.” In fact, approximately 20 percent of all Indiana traffic accidents in 2018 occurred during some type of adverse weather event.

Motorists who have been involved in an Indiana weather-related car accident may be able to recover compensation for the injuries they sustained in the crash. By contacting a dedicated Indiana personal injury lawyer, accident victims can learn more about how to pursue a claim for compensation.

Anyone who has spent time in Indiana between the months of December and February knows that Indiana winters are no joke. Indeed, the average overnight temperature during an Indiana winter is well below freezing, at just above 20 degrees. And with an average of over eight inches of rain and more than 20 inches of snow each winter, Indiana roads can be difficult to navigate during the winter months. Not surprisingly, there are a significant number of weather-related car accidents each year.

Winter weather poses a number of challenges to motorists. For example, the presence of ice or snow on the road seriously affects a vehicle’s ability to maintain traction on the road, increasing both a car’s stopping distance and the chance of the driver losing control. During snowstorms and on foggy days, the visibility may be extremely limited, making it hard for drivers to see more than a few feet ahead of them. Unprepared motorists may also face equipment issues, such as damaged windshield wipers, bald tires, or worn brakes. These factors can all contribute to a car accident.

Despite the difficulties that winter weather presents to motorists, it is up to drivers to take the necessary precautions, regardless of the conditions. Some steps that drivers should take when driving in winter weather include:

  • Reduce speed:  Speed limits are based on optimal conditions, and drivers should reduce their speed when there are potentially dangerous weather conditions.
  • Give other drivers space:  What may be an acceptable following distance when driving on dry pavement may not be enough room to come to a stop on a wet or icy road. Drivers should give other motorists a little extra room.
  • Check the car’s tires:  Improperly inflated and poorly maintained tires can contribute to a driver losing control of their vehicle.
  • Go easy on the brakes:  In wet weather, a car’s braking system is more likely to lock up. Thus, drivers should anticipate the need to brake and apply firm, consistent pressure rather than slamming on the brakes.
  • Always pay attention:  While distracted driving is always dangerous, it is especially hazardous during periods of inclement weather. Even a momentary glance away from the road can result in a serious accident.

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Indiana motorists are accustomed to driving in a variety of conditions. March, in particular, has always been an unpredictable month when it comes to weather in Indiana. While some March days can be sunny and beautiful spring-like, others bring nasty winter storms reminiscent of the dead of winter.

Last week, the end of March brought a serious storm that coated the roads in a layer of snow and ice, making travel difficult for motorists. The wet snow turned into a sheet of ice as temperatures dipped below freezing. According to a local news report, authorities responded to 59 Indiana car accidents between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Of those, 18 crashes involved injuries. Thankfully, none were fatal; however, one woman was left in critical condition.

Authorities described the worst accident as a nine-car pile-up near Old Lafayette Square Mall. Evidently, that accident was the result of motorists losing control of their vehicles due to bridges being slicker than expected.

The most commonly seen types of Indiana premises liability cases are slip-and-fall accidents occurring in the winter months due to accumulated snow or ice on the ground. Snow and ice that accumulates on a landowner’s property create a serious hazard, and Indiana lawmakers recognize as much.

A Business Owner’s Obligation to Clear Snow and Ice

In Indiana, business owners have a general duty to clear their premises of snow and ice. What precisely a landowner’s duty entails is determined on a case-by-case basis. Generally, courts will look to whether the landowner exercised reasonable care in the maintenance of their property.

Under Indiana case law, when courts consider a winter slip-and-fall accident occurring on commercial property, they look to 1.) how long the snow or ice was present on the property, and 2.) the amount of notice the landowner had of the upcoming storm. For example, if a sudden storm deposits a surprising amount of snow, it may be reasonable for a landowner to take slightly longer than one would typically expect to clear their property of the snow. Courts may also consider whether the landowner had prior notice of a problem that had occurred in the past.

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Earlier this month, a teenager lost her life in a fatal accident after the driver of the car she was riding in lost control of the vehicle and collided head-on with a large utility vehicle. According to one local news source, the deceased teen was in the car with another teen whom she had met online through social media and had just met in person for the first time.

Evidently, the deceased was a passenger in a Ford Focus, and as the teens approached the intersection of Indiana 28 and Langdon Road, the driver of the Ford lost control of the vehicle and crossed over the center line and into oncoming traffic. As the car crossed the road, it struck an American Electric Power Co. bucket truck.

The female passenger was ejected from the vehicle and was shortly afterward pronounced dead by responding emergency workers. The male driver of the Ford, as well as the driver of the bucket truck, were both transported to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie with minor injuries.

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Earlier this month in St. John, one man was killed in a single-vehicle accident that investigators say was likely caused due to the foggy conditions on the road at the time of the accident. According to one local news report, the fatal accident occurred on U.S. 231 near Park Place early on a Wednesday morning. The vehicle involved was a Ford F-150.

Evidently, the truck driver was heading westbound on U.S. 231 when suddenly the truck veered across several lanes of traffic and drove off the road. Prior to coming to a stop, however, the truck continued to roll several times. As the vehicle was rolling, the driver was ejected and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma to the head, and the manner of death was listed as an accident.

Police were quick to note that, while no one witnessed the accident, they believe that the foggy conditions on U.S. 231 that day contributed significantly to the accident. With that said, an accident reconstruction team is in the midst of an investigation, and there may be additional factors soon to be determined.

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