During the winter months, Maine roadways often experience freezing temperatures that bring snow, ice storms, and black ice. Many motorists adjust their habits when the weather is visibly dangerous; however, some dangerous conditions are not apparent. One of the most threatening conditions is black ice. Drivers are more likely to experience serious injuries in a Maine car accident caused by black ice. Although some of these accidents are unavoidable, many involve some degree of negligence.
Black ice forms when snow or moisture in the air rapidly freezes and attaches to the frozen pavement. Freezing rain usually traps air and becomes visible on the roadways; in contrast, black ice is usually clear and unnoticeable. In some cases, black ice forms naturally; however, in other situations, black ice forms because of some defect in roadway maintenance. Poorly maintained or designed roadways can make black ice more likely to occur. Black ice usually occurs after mild rainfall on roads that are at a higher elevation or do not get direct light. This is especially concerning because areas that do not get direct light are often around a curve or near large trees. Drivers often approach these areas suddenly and do not have time to control their car from spinning.
For example, a recent Maine news report described a black ice accident involving several collisions. According to police, a truck slid on black ice and crossed a center line, hitting a Jeep. Shortly afterward, three other black ice crashes occurred within minutes of each other. The most serious accident occurred when a sedan rolled over after the driver lost control after skidding on black ice. The icy road conditions resulted in four injuries.
Determining fault and liability is essential because Maine follows the modified comparative negligence system of recovery. This theory means that a driver who is equal or more at fault than the negligent party will not be able to recover. Insurance companies tend to impute liability on drivers rather than road conditions. As such, personal injury plaintiffs must be able to cite outside factors to establish negligence. In some cases, a government entity such as a city, town, or municipality may be responsible for failing to maintain a roadway properly. Further, despite black ice, a driver’s speeding, impairment, or distraction may have contributed to the accident.
Although winter is approaching an end, drivers should remain vigilant to avoid and navigate black ice conditions. Those who find themselves on black ice should avoid slamming on their brakes; instead, drivers should steer as straight as possible or in the direction of their back wheels. In most cases, black ice is about 20 feet long, so drivers should try and direct their car off a roadway to avoid an accident if a vehicle cannot regain traction.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Black Ice Accident?
If you are involved in a Maine car accident because of winter weather conditions, contact Peter Thompson & Associates. Our law firm attorneys have over 60 years of combined experience successfully representing Maine injury victims in their claims for damages. We handle Maine personal injury cases stemming from motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice, and wrongful death. Our award-winning attorneys are here to help you. Contact our office at 800-804-2004 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney on our legal team.