As soon as snow or ice starts to accumulate, snowplow drivers are ready and waiting to make the road conditions safe for drivers. Car accidents involving snowplows are not common, but they do happen. The massive size and weight of snowplow vehicles often cause significant property damage and serious injuries when an accident occurs. Motorists who are injured in a snowplow accident should contact a qualified car accident lawyer who is experienced at determining liability in complex cases. The snowplow driver and/or another third party may be found negligent and therefore responsible for paying damages to cover medical costs and other expenses incurred by the accident victims.
What are the Main Causes of Snowplow Accidents?
Snow and other types of wintry precipitation always increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Snowplow drivers and motorists sharing the road have a responsibility to drive safely and take precautions. The following are common causes of snowplow accidents:
- Slippery road conditions
- Whiteouts or other types of poor visibility
- Impaired or distracted driving
- Defective or poorly maintained vehicles
An experienced car accident lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether any of these factors caused or contributed to an accident with a snowplow.
How can I Avoid a Snowplow Accident?
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) provides the following suggestions to help motorists avoid getting involved in an accident with a snowplow:
- Never pass or travel next to a plowing truck
- Stay at least six car lengths behind the snowplow
- Keep your lights on
- Move far away from the center of the road if a snowplow is coming toward you
It is also helpful to remember that the width of the plow itself is always wider than the truck, so leave plenty of room. Despite these precautions, sharing the road with a snowplow that is in the process of clearing the road can be hazardous. If motorists crash into a snowplow, there may be multiple parties at fault. This is because snowplow accidents are similar to truck accidents in that it is more than just the driver who bears responsibility for the safe operation of the plow vehicle.
Who is Liable for a Snowplow Accident?
Snowplow operators work very hard, often under severe weather conditions to make sure that the roadways are safe for motorists. However, just like other motorists, they may not always fulfill their duty of care while operating the vehicle. Snowplow drivers often work long hours through the night and may fall asleep at the wheel or become distracted. Like truck accidents, when a passenger vehicle is involved in an accident with a snowplow, it is often the occupants of the passenger vehicle that suffer the most severe injuries. If the snowplow driver was distracted, drowsy, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or was driving recklessly at the time of the accident, he or she will likely be held liable for any injuries and property damage suffered. However, other parties in addition to the driver may be held accountable, including the following:
- Private contractors that own or operate the snowplow
- Municipalities that own or operate the snowplow
- State agencies, such as PennDOT
Accident victims who were in a passenger vehicle hit by a snowplow should not assume that their car insurance will pay for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. It is always in the best interest of motorists involved in snowplow accidents to reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer to find out their legal rights. A thorough investigation may reveal negligence on the part of one or more third parties.
What Else can I Do to Avoid a Car Accident During the Winter?
If the snowplows are out, it means that the weather is causing hazardous road conditions. In addition to using caution when sharing the road with a snowplow, motorists should keep the following winter driving tips in mind:
- Listen to the weather report and avoid travel if inclement weather is in the forecast.
- Keep the gas tank at least half full. Condensation in the tank can cause fuel lines to freeze and prevent gas from reaching the engine. In addition, if the car breaks down, having enough gas in the tank will allow the driver to keep the car running for brief periods of time to stay warm.
- Remove all snow and ice from the roof, windshield, and windows. If a large piece of ice flies off the car and hits another vehicle, this can cause a serious accident.
It is always a good idea to use extra caution when driving on bridges or ramps. Black ice can form quickly on these surfaces, which can cause very hazardous conditions, particularly if the motorist is approaching an icy bridge or exit ramp at a high speed.
Bucks County Car Accident Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Represent Victims of Snowplow Accidents
Motorists who use caution can avoid accidents with snowplows. However, many times, taking precaution is not enough to prevent an accident if it is caused by another party’s negligence. If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident involving a snowplow, contact the Bucks County car accident lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 215-925-8400 or contact us online. With offices in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania.