Anyone who has spent a couple of winters driving in Colorado is familiar with the experience of driving on black ice. On a sunny winter day, you may suddenly find yourself sliding on the road, unable to steer. Only after you recover may you realize you were driving on a thin layer of invisible ice. After an accident that was caused by losing control on an icy road, the driver may feel like they were helpless and should not be responsible for causing an accident. However, even if the accident was caused by winter weather conditions, you may still be at fault.
Liability in Colorado Car Accidents
Colorado is an at-fault insurance state. This generally means that when two cars are involved in an accident, the driver who caused the accident is liable for damages. Fault can be determined based on a number of factors, including whether one or both drivers were negligent in causing the crash.
In Colorado, negligence means, “a failure to do an act which a reasonably careful person would do, or the doing of an act which a reasonably careful person would not do, under the same or similar circumstances to protect others from bodily injury, death, or property damage.”
When the other driver loses control on black ice or snowy road conditions, the driver may be at fault if a jury determines that the driver was not acting as a reasonably careful person. For example, if the jury determines that a reasonably careful person would have been going slower based on the freezing temperatures and snow or ice on the road, the driver may be liable for damages.
Negligence for Violating Colorado Traffic Laws
Negligence in a car accident can also be demonstrated if the other driver violates a traffic law or ordinance. Negligence per se means that negligence can be presumed if the other driver was breaking a traffic law that is supposed to keep others safe. Under Colorado jury instructions, negligence per se can be demonstrated where:
- At the time of the occurrence in question in this case, a statute or ordinance was in effect;
- A violation of this statute or ordinance constitutes negligence; and
- If you find such a violation, you may only consider it if you also find that it was a cause of the claimed injuries, damages, or losses.
For example, a stretch of road in Boulder has a speed limit of 25 miles per hour. A driver is going 35 mph before losing control on an icy patch, hitting a cyclist, and causing injuries. The injured cyclist may be able to claim the driver was negligent because the driver was violating the speed limit which caused the injuries to the cyclist.
Denver Auto Accident Lawyer
Black ice is dangerous, even for the most experienced drivers. Snow tires and all-wheel-drive can help improve handling in snowy conditions but it may not be enough to recover from hitting a surprise stretch of black ice. Reducing speed and keeping a safety buffer around your vehicle can help reduce the chance of an accident.
If you are injured in a car accident caused by winter weather, talk to your Denver auto accident lawyer about how you can recover damages to pay for your injuries. Your attorney can deal with the insurance companies so you can focus on getting better and getting back to work. Contact the Denver Legal Eagles today at 303-642-8888 for a free consultation.