This year, Texas has seen its share of cold weather. With cold weather tends to come ice and unfamiliar driving conditions, and when conditions are unfamiliar, accidents result – one report had as many as 230 crashes occurring in San Antonio during the week of January 15-19. If you have had the misfortune to be involved in one, it may simply be bad luck, but it may also be the result of someone’s negligence.
Deceptive Road Conditions
One of the most common reasons for accidents in Texas winter weather is that the roads may still appear to be in normal working order. For example, in areas further north where feet of snow may fall at any moment, it is a large, bright warning sign that caution is required in driving. Texans almost never have this, even if temperatures are below freezing. Black ice is very difficult to detect on the roadways, and it is one of the leading causes of accidents on non-snowy roads. It can even play a role in accidents that are in theory not caused by sliding; many people do not realize that rain is freezing until it has hit the ground.
While this is all, in theory, common knowledge, it may not be for all, especially if someone has only recently moved to the area. A driver hailing from a climate where black ice is less common may not know its dangers, though they still ought to. If it can be shown that a reasonable person would have exercised reasonable care, such as driving slowly, and they do not, you may be able to bring suit against them for their negligence in dealing with the weather.
Winter weather profoundly affects the workings of businesses, but also governments. When inclement weather happens, it is the responsibility of the state, county or city that maintains the roads to properly prepare them for ice and the like – for example, pre-treating highway ramps and merge lanes. However, sometimes this does not get done, either due to oversight or negligence. If you are able to demonstrate that a failure to maintain roads might have played a role in your winter weather accident, it is possible in some cases to bring suit against the maintaining authority.
If you believe that the state, county or city government might be liable in your accident, however, be advised that some entities have a privilege called sovereign immunity, which means they are immune from suit under state law. This is a throwback to English law, on which U.S. law is based, and it used to mean that no governmental entity could be sued for any reason. Over time, states and counties have chosen to waive sovereign immunity, in whole or in part (for example, Texas passed the Texas Tort Claims Act, which permits suit against the state for specific causes of action), but it is imperative that you know whether the entity in question has done so before you try to bring suit.
Call Our Bad Weather Car Accident Lawyers
In bad weather, your focus should be on staying safe. If someone else’s negligence puts you in danger, a good attorney can help you decide what to do. The dedicated New Braunfels auto accident lawyers at the Bettersworth Law Firm are happy to sit down with you and try to answer your questions. Call us today to set up an appointment.