A large portion of Texas enjoys fairly warm weather for most of the year, but winter temperatures sometimes do happen, even as far south as Houston or San Antonio. In early February 2020, snow flurries have led to fun and memories – but have also led to icy roads and crashes. In Austin, parts of North Loop 360 and East U.S. 290 were closed, and in Round Rock, RM 1431 saw two crashes recently. While law enforcement and the Texas Department of Transportation were able to manage the majority of issues on the roads, this is by no means guaranteed. If you are in an auto accident where the weather could have played a role, it is a good idea to understand what options you might have for compensation.
What People Do In Weather
The U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s Road Weather Management Program (RWMP) estimates that as many as 21 percent of all auto accidents are weather-related, whether rain, sleet, fog, snow, wind, or another type. On average, almost 5,000 fatalities happen every year as a result of these crashes – because of weather, obviously, but more specifically because of certain factors in driving due to weather; namely, how individual drivers approach unusual or sudden weather patterns.
For example, heavy snowfall can reduce the rate of speed on a freeway by as much as 40 percent – but there will always be some driver who continues to drive, often aggressively, at a rate of speed that would be fine on smooth, dry roads, but is too fast when ice or rain is present. Auto accident cases often turn on the “reasonableness” (or lack thereof) of someone’s actions, and if it can be shown that the driver’s speed plus the weather was unreasonable, they will often wind up being liable for any injuries they caused.
Something else to consider if you find yourself involved in an accident on icy or snowy roads is the issue of maintenance, both to your vehicles (yours and the defendant’s) and the road. Texas law places responsibility for a road’s status at the door of the locale it moves through, with rare exceptions – for example, most freeways are the responsibility of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). If it is not in proper shape – for example, if traffic lights are inoperable, or if signs are obstructed or guardrails down – that entity might find itself at least partially liable for your injuries, if you can show that the disrepair contributed to your being hurt.
Maintenance questions can also come up with regard to your vehicle or to the defendant’s because a finding that one of the vehicles was faulty might either free the defendant from liability or give the plaintiff more people to bring into their lawsuit. If, for example, the defendant’s car was shown to have malfunctioning brakes, the plaintiff might be able to sue the mechanic or the brake manufacturer – but if the plaintiff’s car was shown to have malfunctioning brakes, the defendant might escape liability. Texas law holds that if a plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault for their own injuries, they cannot recover.
Call a New Braunfels Auto Accident Lawyer
While snow and ice are relatively rare in Austin, knowing your rights and what to expect when it does hit can be a lifesaver. If you have been in an accident in the cold, contact the dedicated New Braunfels car crash attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm today – we are happy to work hard to get you the outcome you deserve so that you can get back on your feet as soon as possible. Call our offices today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.