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Who is Responsible After an Accident Involving Black Ice?

Black ice is a transparent coating of ice which commonly exists on roads or other paved surfaces like sidewalks. It’s called black ice because it’s filled with dirty particles and is hard to see.

Black ice is extremely dangerous because people often don’t recognize it until it is too late. Furthermore, black ice on the road can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and result in a serious accident.

Drivers who are injured in a black ice accident may wonder who is liable for the crash. There are different circumstances that determine who is at fault and things you can do to show that someone else was negligent in the accident. 

Driving in Bad Road Conditions

Adverse or hazardous road conditions include situations where the weather is making the road more difficult to navigate than usual. Serious rain or a snowstorm can vastly impact road conditions. Black ice is one example of how frigid weather can affect the condition of the road.

It is common knowledge that the number of motor vehicle accidents increases when there is snow or ice on the road. Black ice present on highways, secondary roads, city streets, or side streets generally leads to more accidents.

Despite the increased danger of driving on snowy or icy roads, insurance companies believe that drivers can control their vehicle in any weather conditions. Therefore, it is considered your responsibility to slow down or pull over when weather conditions are so severe they threaten your ability to drive. If you continue to drive on roads, the insurance company considers it your responsibility to traverse the roads safely.

Black Ice Car Accidents

When you are involved in a car accident that involved black ice, your insurance provider will take a look at the accident. The adjuster is responsible for determining who is at fault if there is more than one vehicle involved in the accident.

Unfortunately, if you are the only automobile involved in the accident with black ice, you are ultimately responsible for the damages. Auto insurance companies consider the driver responsible when they knowingly entered roads with snow or ice, even if it is clear ice like black ice. The same is true if the accident involved more than one automobile and you are at fault.

However, you can pursue damages related to a black ice auto accident where more than one vehicle was involved and you believe another driver is at fault, or the adjuster has settled in your favor.

If another vehicle slid on snow or ice and hit your car or truck, you have the right to recover damages through your own insurance company. Insurance providers have the responsibility of offering personal injury protection to their policyholders. Drivers can also attempt to get the liability coverage of the other driver to pay for damages.

Exceptions to Black Ice Accidents

Drivers must drive safely regardless of the road conditions. When you choose to drive with snow or ice present on the road, you assume responsibility in the event of an accident. Insurers believe that drivers are well aware of the dangers associated with winter conditions, including black ice.

However, there are situations where someone or another entity could have prevented the black ice. For example, a roadway that is not maintained properly can result in the municipality or organization assuming responsibility for the accident. Roads that are not cleared or salted to remove black ice in a reasonable amount of time are safety hazards. 

It is not always easy to prove liability in accidents involving black ice. Every driver must act with due care depending on road conditions unless the snow or ice is considered unexpected or unforeseen.

Preventing Black Ice Accidents

Millions of drivers are on the road each day. After or during a snowstorm, it is expected of any reasonable person to understand the dangers associated with driving on snow or ice. Therefore, drivers are expected to travel at slower speeds and keep a greater following distance.

Drivers are also expected to know if their vehicle is properly equipped for ice and snow. For example, traveling through a mountain pass without tire chains and/or 4×4 drive is a bad idea.

To reduce the risk of a black ice accident, and to avoid being liable for damages, consider the following precautions:

●     Avoid driving in adverse weather. It is not always possible, but if you have the option, stay home. Snow and ice will melt, and rescheduling your plans will provide road crews time to clear roads of snow and ice.

●     Reduce your speed. The speed limit sign may say 35 mph but that doesn’t mean you should stick to the script when driving on snow or ice. Even if the ice isn’t visible, as is the case with black ice, reduce speeds on morning commutes in frigid weather or after a snowstorm. Also, keep a greater distance between your car and the car ahead of you to allow for more time to brake.

●     Check your tires. Poorly inflated tires pose an additional risk of losing control on black ice. As a result, you should regularly check your air pressure to make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended PSI.

●     Use tire chains. Though tire chains don’t fully prevent car accidents, they can vastly improve traction on the bottom of your tires while driving over snow or ice. Some places, like mountain passes, have times where driving with tire chains is enforced, so it is a good idea to invest in a set.

●     Avoid distractions. This rule applies to drivers in any type of weather, but it’s especially true when dealing with snow or ice. Always keep your eyes on the road, avoid using your phone, don’t eat or drink while driving, and avoid playing with the radio dials.

Contact Greenberg & Stein

Accidents that are a result of snow or black ice often involve multiple vehicles and can result in serious injuries. It is often a headache dealing with auto policies and adjustor investigations on your own.

If you believe someone else is liable for a black ice accident involving your vehicle, contact Greenberg & Stein. Our personal injury law firm can help you recover damages related to your car or truck, as well as injuries sustained as a result of the accident. 

Call Greenberg & Stein at 212-969-8770 or visit