Beware of Black Ice

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Black ice patches are hard to see, but that difficulty does not excuse negligent driving conduct.

In terms of vehicle traction, ice and water are probably two of the most dangerous things on the road. That is especially true if a vehicle’s tires are even slightly worn and/or under-inflated. Black ice is a combination of both these hazards. A thin layer of moisture conceals an even thinner layer of ice.

Black ice patches often form when the air temperature is just above freezing. These areas are especially common in the shadows of early morning and late afternoon. Because of the (somewhat) warm temperatures, many drivers are not watching out for ice patches. The lack of light amplifies the lack of visibility.

These unsafe surfaces often cause dangerous loss-of-control collisions. Due to the seriousness of the injuries, a Freehold, NJ personal injury lawyer might be able to obtain substantial compensation for victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.

What Causes Black Ice Crashes?

As mentioned, failure to maintain a proper lookout causes many black ice crashes. Lack of watchfulness is also a lack of care.

This rule originally came from 1932’s Donoghue v. Stevenson, a case which introduced the neighbor principle. The neighbor principle, which was much like the Golden Rule that New Jersey schoolchildren once memorized, later became the duty of care.

So, the failure to watch out for black ice patches and other such hazards is not an “accident.” Instead, it is a lack of ordinary care. We all make mistakes like passing over black ice without making the proper adjustments, and we must all face the consequences of our mistakes. That is the essence of a personal injury damages claim.

Excessive speed also contributes to many black ice wrecks. Velocity reduces the amount of time drivers have to react to roadway hazards because speed increases stopping distance. That is the distance a vehicle travels in the time it takes for a driver to see a hazard, move a foot onto the brake pedal, and safely stop the car.

At 30mph, stopping distance is about six car lengths. At 60mph, stopping distance multiples to 18 car lengths. Other factors, such as adverse environmental conditions, increase stopping distance even more.

What to Expect in a Claim for Damages

Most black ice claims settle out of court. However, most of them do not settle quickly. In fact, the process can sometimes be rather drawn-out.

Settlement negotiations cannot begin in earnest until medical treatment is at least substantially complete. If a lawyer settles a claim too early, the victim may not obtain enough compensation to cover all current and future losses. It is almost impossible to reopen a case that has been closed.

Once lawyers ascertain a fair amount of compensation, they usually send demand letters to insurance companies. If there is no question as to liability, the company has a duty to resolve the claim in a few weeks. However, there is almost always at least some question as to liability. For example, many vehicle collision claims involve the contributory negligence rule. This legal loophole shifts blame for the accident from the tortfeasor (negligent driver) to the victim.

So, an attorney must often file legal paperwork to preserve the victim’s rights. After that filing, most Monmouth County judges refer the matter to mediation. Assuming both parties negotiate in good faith and with open minds, mediation is usually successful.

Contact a Tenacious Attorney

Black ice patches may be thin and tiny, but they often cause serious crashes. For a confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Freehold, contact Lomurro, Munson, Comer, Brown & Schottland, LLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in injury cases.

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