A road hazard commonly known as black ice is the bane of many drivers in colder climates. Black ice is created when weather conditions allow moisture in the air to flash freeze onto a road surface. The result is a very thin layer of ice that is very difficult to see during the day and nearly impossible to see at night. Black ice is very slippery, so a vehicle has little to no stopping power. There is also almost no steering response when the front wheels of the vehicle are on ice. Vehicles fitted with regular street tires often go out of control. However, it is still possible for a driver to be found negligent and liable to other parties for damages.
Black ice can cause collisions with other vehicles and fixed objects near the roadways. Because black ice can form on large sections of roadway, multiple vehicles may be involved in resulting accidents. Depending on the nature of the roadway, vehicles may be traveling in opposite directions prior to collision. This can cause serious injuries to the occupants, even at relatively low speeds. Broken bones, contusions, internal bleeding, concussions are common. Also, an out of control car is extremely hazardous to any pedestrians in the vicinity.
Assessing liability for black ice accidents can be complicated. New York law has a no-fault insurance system for road accidents. Vehicle owners must buy a personal injury protection (PIP) policy in the amount of at least $50,000. In the event of an accident, the insurer pays the PIP policyholder for expenses up to the policy limit regardless of who was at fault. PIP pays for medical bills, lost wages and other direct economic losses. PIP does not pay for noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering.
However, even with PIP an injured party can sue a negligent driver for serious injuries as defined by the law and other losses not covered by PIP. Because black ice easily leads to loss of vehicle control, it may be difficult to determine that someone who crashes on ice was in the wrong. However, the law can still assign fault to a person despite the weather or the road conditions.
Liability for black ice accidents usually falls on the driver who hits another vehicle or pedestrian. New York auto owners are required to purchase liability insurance for injuries and property damage. This insurance pays out to third parties when their PIP is inadequate and the driver is at fault for the accident. For more information about a suing another driver for damages, consult a qualified auto accident lawyer.
Goldberg, Sager & Associates in Brooklyn has been successfully representing accident victims throughout New York City for many years. If you or a family member has been injured in an auto accident, feel free to contact us online or call 718-514-9516 for an initial consultation.