Who Is To Blame for an Accident on Ice? | Studinski Law, LLC
February 3, 2022

How Is Fault Determined When Ice Causes a Car Accident?

Wisconsin drivers are no strangers to long, harsh winters. Snow and ice are just a part of living in the Badger State. Unfortunately, inclement weather can cause hazardous road conditions, and accidents can and do happen every day. Even careful, defensive drivers can get caught off-guard by slick areas of fresh snow or an unexpected patch of black ice.

The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Studinski Law, LLC have extensive experience protecting the rights of accident victims in a range of cases, including winter wrecks. We have the resources necessary to thoroughly investigate the evidence in your case and help you pursue the full and fair compensation to which you may be entitled under the law. 

Can You Blame Winter Road Conditions for an Accident?

If you drive regularly in Wisconsin, you know that slick road conditions are not unusual during the winter months. Part of every driver’s duty is to identify and adapt to a variety of conditions that occur on the road. This may mean driving slower and maintaining greater distances between vehicles. 

Drivers may be considered negligent if they fail to use the care that another reasonable person would have exercised under similar circumstances. If a driver fails to use caution when driving in adverse weather conditions and collides with another vehicle, he or she may be held liable for resulting damages. Even if black ice played a role in a collision, drivers may still face liability.

Determining Negligence In a Winter Car Accident

Wisconsin follows a system known as modified comparative negligence, or the 51 percent bar rule. This means that if you are 51 percent or more at fault for an accident, you are barred from recovering any compensation. If your percentage of fault is proven to be below this threshold, you may still recover compensation, but it will be lowered based on your percentage of fault. In other words, if you are found to be 30 percent at fault, your compensation will be reduced by 30 percent.

If you were involved in a multi-car collision in winter driving conditions, determining liability can be very complicated. An experienced car accident attorney will need to investigate the available evidence and work to prove the negligence (or lack of negligence) of each of the involved drivers.  When establishing fault, insurance companies often blame the driver who lost control of his or her vehicle first.

When building a case on your behalf, an attorney will gather pertinent evidence to demonstrate that another driver lost control on the ice or snow first. This evidence may potentially include:

  • Police reports
  • Statements from the other driver
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Dashcam or traffic cam footage
  • Expert accident reconstruction

It is important to note that just because one driver lost control of his or her vehicle first while driving in adverse conditions, this fact does not guarantee that the driver will be given all—or even the majority—of the responsibility for the wreck. Liability may be distributed among all drivers and parties involved. For example, you may have been the first driver to lose control of their vehicle, but if the other driver was distracted, fatigued, or drunk, he or she may still be the most liable for the collision.

Tips to Avoid Winter Car Accidents

According to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, more than 18,600 auto accidents happen in the winter months when roads are slick from ice, slush, or snow.

When driving in bad weather, or on roads that may be slick from ice and snow, consider the following tips to avoid an accident:

  • Keep your distance: The Wisconsin Department of Transportation recommends leaving at least four seconds of following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you under ideal driving conditions. You should allow at least double that space between your car and the vehicle in front of you in adverse winter conditions. 
  • Drive slowly: The faster your vehicle is going when you hit a patch of slick snow or ice, the higher your chances are of losing control of your vehicle and causing an accident.
  • Allow more time: By giving yourself more travel time, you may be under less stress to reach your destination on time and more likely to be patient and make good driving decisions.
  • Ensure your windshield is clear and clean: This can be challenging in poor weather, but using special winter de-icing windshield fluid can help.
  • Properly maintain your vehicle: It’s always a good idea to make sure your vehicle is in tiptop shape, especially in the winter. For starters, check your battery performance and make sure your tires aren’t worn or low. Worn tires with low pressure have less traction on slick roads.
  • Do not use cruise control: In snowy or icy conditions, it is unsafe to use the cruise control function. If your vehicle skids or hydroplanes, cruise control can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Use your headlights: Your headlights will help you notice shiny spots on the road that may be patches of ice, even in the early afternoon.

Call a Wisconsin Car Accident Lawyer for Free

At Studinski Law, LLC, our car accident lawyers have built a reputation for excellence in a range of complex cases. We know that after a serious wreck, you may be facing pain, disability, high medical bills, and time away from work you can’t afford. We are committed to helping you pursue the justice you deserve.

See our results.

If you’ve been injured or lost someone you love in a winter car accident, call Studinski Law, LLC today at (715) 343-2850 to discuss your case for free. We proudly serve Plover, Marshfield, and all other Wisconsin areas.

Jason Studinski Injury Attorney
Free Case Evaluation
Call us at (715) 343-2850 or fill out the form below:
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.