Do icy road conditions negate auto accident claims?

Today there is a slight mix of snow and sleet falling in metro Atlanta as we are getting the first wintry weather of the season. Schools are closing early today and we will likely have the usual Atlanta panic where bread and milk are cleared out at the grocery stores. While there is usually a slight over-reaction to snow in Atlanta, we all remember the bad ice storms of the past where people are stranded on highways and cars and trucks are wrecked as drivers lose control.

If you are struck and injured by a vehicle in wintry weather conditions do you still have a case?

Probably yes. Georgia law requires drivers to drive safely even taking into account weather and highway conditions. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-180 requires:

"No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing. Consistently with the foregoing, every person shall drive at a reasonable and prudent speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching and traversing a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions."

Consistent with O.C.G.A. § 40-6-180 if you are injured in a traffic accident where another driver loses control in icy or snowy conditions (or any other weather conditions), the law still holds the other driver accountable. You may have a claim for negligence and violating O.C.G.A. § 40-6-180.

Negligence involves proving (1) a duty, (2) a breach of that duty, (3) causation, and (4) damages. The other driver has a (1) duty to drive at a reasonable and prudent speed given the weather conditions. If he loses control of his vehicle he has (2) breached that duty. If he has struck and injured you he has (3) caused (4) damages. That is a potential claim under the laws of Georgia.

Insurance adjusters will sometimes try to deny claims based on weather conditions by arguing that the weather conditions made the accident unavoidable or that they were an act of God. That is simply not the law in Georgia. 

If another driver has struck and injured you in poor weather conditions in Georgia, please contact attorney Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation. 

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.

Impact of Weather Conditions on Liability in Georgia Wrecks

Yesterday in Gainesville, Georgia, a crash involving at least ten vehicles, at least one of which was a tractor-trailer, resulted in nine people being sent to the hospital according to the AJC. According to that report, at least one person was seriously injured. This Hall County accident reportedly involved an 18-wheeler slamming into the rear of stopped vehicles in foggy conditions.

Trucking accidents can involve fatalities and serious injuries because of the greater weight of tractor-trailers when compared to other vehicles. The bigger it is, the harder it hits. The news report from the AJC provides an opportunity to review Georgia law on how low visibility presented by foggy conditions affects civil liability in a wreck.

Georgia has a statute entitled "Basic Rules" regarding the speed vehicles must travel given existing conditions. O.C.G.A. § 40-6-180 provides:

"No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing. Consistently with the foregoing, every person shall drive at a reasonable and prudent speed when approaching and crossing an intersection or railroad grade crossing, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching and traversing a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, and when special hazards exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions."

This statute basically requires that if a driver of any type of vehicle is driving in a weather condition such as fog (or any other condition, including, but not limited to, sunlight glare, rain, darkness, other vehicles, road construction barriers, etc.), he must drive slow enough to be safe. If he can normally safely drive 45 miles per hour on a road, but in foggy conditions with low visibility he needs to proceed at 10 miles per hour to avoid an accident, that is what the law requires.

Further, in rear-end collision cases specifically, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-49(a), Following Too Closely, provides:

"The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon and the condition of the highway."

It is never reasonable under Georgia law to follow so closely to the rear of another vehicle that a driver collides with the vehicle in front of him. 

Georgia laws take into account the conditions of the roadways, whether they are affected by weather, traffic, construction, or any other cause. Georgia drivers are required to drive safely given the existing conditions. Violating these requirements can be a basis for civil liability.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a trucking accident or any other automobile wreck and would like to speak with a Georgia personal injury lawyer please contact Richard Armond at (678) 661-9585 for a free consultation today.

Attorney Richard Armond of The Armond Firm, LLC, handles serious personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. He is licensed to practice law by the State Bar of Georgia and is based in Lawrenceville, one mile down the road from the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center. Call him today for a free consultation at (678) 661-9585. The information above is for informational purposes only as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice, nor does the reading of it form an attorney-client relationship. Always consult directly with an attorney for legal advice.