Driving in the winter in Illinois brings a whole new set of challenges. Snow, sleet, and ice could make driving hazardous, limiting visibility and control while driving.
It is no wonder that there are so many car accidents during these cold Chicago, IL winter months, causing damage to thousands of vehicles and causing serious injuries and fatalities.
Hiring an Icy Road Auto Accident Attorney Could Help
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represent accident victims injured in winter weather who suffered severe personal injury or wrongful death.
Contact us at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) to schedule a free consultation with a Chicago winter car accident lawyer to ensure your family receives the financial compensation they deserve.
A Chicago car accident lawyer from our firm can represent clients throughout the United States, Illinois, and the Chicago area, including Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, Will County, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Chicago, Cicero, Elgin, Joliet, Naperville, Waukegan, and Wheaton.
Drivers often don’t take the necessary precautions to adjust their driving in adverse weather conditions. As a result, they are involved in wintery weather car crashes.
The winter months bring many dangers on the road, chief among them being bad weather car crashes. These wintery weather crashes can cause serious injury or death to drivers and passengers alike.
Drivers need to be aware of the risks associated with winter weather and take steps to adjust their driving accordingly.
Winter driving tips include using extra caution when driving, slowing down, and increasing following distances. In addition, drivers should always have an emergency winter driving safety kit in their car in case of an accident.
Winter Driving Statistics: How Many Car Accidents Happen During the Cold Season
Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) releases winter driving statistics on car accidents that occur in the United States. According to the NHTSA, several factors contribute to an increase in vehicle crashes during the winter months. These factors include bad weather conditions, such as snow, sleet, and ice; shorter days, which mean less daylight and more darkness; and holiday traffic.
In 2017, the NHTSA reported 6,223 fatal car crashes in the United States that occurred between December 1 and February 28. Of these weather-related crashes, 1,897 (30.5 percent) were weather-related. The states with the most winter weather accidents were:
- Texas (325)
- Pennsylvania (272)
- Illinois (271)
- Ohio (271),
- North Carolina (268)
- Michigan (260)
The NHTSA also reported that of the fatal car crashes during the winter season, 41 percent were due to speeding, 34 percent were due to alcohol use, and 16 percent were due to distracted driving.
Illinois Weather-Related Traffic Accidents
The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that winter accidents involving dangerous weather conditions accounted for 24 percent of all traffic accidents in the state between 2014 and 2018. In addition, Illinois winter driving statistics reveal that these wintry weather vehicle accidents resulted in 12 percent of all traffic fatalities during that time period.
During the 2017-2018 winter season, there were 8,372 weather-related car crashes in Illinois. These winter driving accidents resulted in 4,102 injuries and 145 fatalities.
More vehicle crashes occur because of winter conditions than any weather problems when summer driving. Most winter crashes in Illinois occur on icy roads and snowy conditions. When driving without snow tires, vehicle performance is significantly reduced in winter storms, especially in snowy regions.
In fact, between 2014 and 2018, icy roads were the cause of 44 percent of all car accidents in the state occurring during adverse weather conditions. Snowy roads and other winter conditions were the cause of 30 percent of these accidents, while slushy roads were the cause of 14 percent.
Legal Responsibility of Illinois Drivers to Avoid Car Accidents – Even During Wintry Weather
When temperatures dropped to bitter cold, Chicago residents braced for slippery roads, icy conditions, and many wintry months of hazardous driving conditions. The Illinois Department of Transportation  released its winter driving guide to stay safe and avoid getting involved in ice road accidents.
The Illinois Department of Transportation winter vehicle accidents report revealed that in 2018, over 20% of all fatal crashes occurred on wet and slippery roads. Most of these traffic accidents involve snowy conditions, icy roads, freezing rain, and icy pavement during daylight hours.
Even though driving is challenging enough when the conditions are perfect, traveling through the Chicago harsh weather of freezing rain, snow, and sleet could increase the potential of an accident with serious injuries or fatalities.
Many accident victims are denied their injury compensation claim every year by car insurance companies using snowy and icy conditions as a ‘valid’ excuse to deny or delay payment.
While the auto insurance company understands that the driver has no control over the weather, they might claim that the driver’s decision to get behind the wheel and drive in dangerous weather conditions to get to work, entertainment, or play transfers responsibility to them.
Claims adjusters use this tactic, knowing that at least a small portion of the claimants will stop pursuing the compensation they deserve.
A driver could be held legally responsible for crashes caused during bad weather when they are expected to operate their vehicle safely.
To ensure you receive compensation, you will need to prove that you followed the duty of care and maintained a safety level for yourself and others while driving under any condition.
You could be held legally liable for causing an accident during wintry conditions if you:
- Failed to use your windshield wipers when necessary
- Traveled on snowy or icy roads with balding or worn tires
- Drove while impaired on drugs or alcohol (drunk driving)
- Did not correctly use your headlights
- Did not have experience with how to avoid a crash when the car slides on icy roads or heavy snow
- Did not slow down for poor visibility, snowplows, black ice, snowy or icy conditions, slower traffic speeds, winter storm, or foggy conditions
- Operated the vehicle while drowsy or fatigued (drowsy driving)
- Drove while using a cell phone, drinking, or eating (distracted driving)
- Lost control for failure to obey traffic rules, signs, and signals
Bad wintry conditions are only one of the crucial factors determining who is at fault for causing an accident in the Chicago area.
However, an auto accident attorney working on your behalf may use Illinois law to prove that you were not at fault for causing the car crash by determining:
- You used a reasonable rate of speed while operating the vehicle based on weather and road conditions
- The bad weather and road surface conditions were an unexpected occurrence
- While traveling, you maintained a safe distance from all other vehicles in front, on the sides, and behind
- You took all available steps to avoid the crash
An investigation may determine that you could not be held legally liable for the accident and are eligible to receive financial compensation from others to pay for all your damages, including medical expenses, hospitalization costs, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
The investigative results may show that no driver was responsible for causing the accident.
What to Do After a Chicago Winter Weather Auto Accident
Did you suffer injuries or property damage in a wintry crash involving a single vehicle or multiple vehicles? What you do next could affect your health and financial well-being.
During the first moments after a wintry weather accident, assess your condition and all other occupants’ well-being inside the car. Identify any apparent injury and ensure your safety before getting out of the vehicle.
Any injured victim should remain in the vehicle until first responders arrive. However, if you suspect a hazardous condition like a car fire or dangerous oncoming traffic, get everyone out of the car safely.
Seek Medical Care
Call 911 and report what happened, asking for transportation to the local hospital, even if you believe no one is injured. In the first few moments after an accident, everyone’s adrenaline levels run high, possibly masking a traumatic brain injury, internal organ damage, concussion, spinal injury, or another significant personal injury.
If you get out of your car, check on other drivers involved in the collision and assist if necessary. Gather all pertinent information, including their driver’s license number, vehicle registration, name, address, phone number, and email address.
Additionally, get the information of all eyewitnesses on the scene, including their names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. When law enforcement arrives, turn over the essential contact information you obtained to ensure the data is placed in the police report.
Use your phone to get photographic evidence of the accident scene, car damage, injuries, and any other damage caused by the crash.
Seek immediate medical care at the local emergency room or urgent care center. Only a competent trained medical professional could accurately diagnose your condition to determine the level of your injuries and the need for treatment.
Talk to an Attorney
Contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer specializing in wintry car crashes to handle your case, speak to the insurance companies, and provide a report on your behalf over precisely what happened. Your lawyer can ensure the information you provide is accurate and build a case to get you and your loved one’s the maximum financial compensation you deserve.
The funds you receive should be sufficient to pay for your hospitalization costs, medical expenses, therapy and rehabilitation bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, mental anxiety, emotional distress, pain, and suffering.
Weather Impacts On Driving Accidents
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) , 1.5 million motor vehicle accidents are attributed to weather each year. These crashes lead to over 7,000 deaths, and an estimated 629,000 others are injured.
These car accidents do not necessarily occur during the winter months. However, they happen when there are poor conditions that can impact safety.
The FHA estimates the following conditions cause the most winter car crashes:
- Wet pavement: The most dangerous winter weather road conditions involve wet or frozen pavement. Rain, melting snow, and ice contribute to slick, wet roads. Nearly 75% of weather-related car accidents happen on the wet pavement by motorists driving vehicles with ineffective wipers.
- Ice: More car accidents (13%) are due to black ice after a winter storm, which causes over 190,000 crashes and over 62,000 injuries. Taking a winter drive without snow tires (winter tires) on icy or snowy roads can cause slipping on black ice hidden under snow.
- Snow / Sleet / Slush: Sleet, slush, and snow are present in over 390,000 winter driving accidents each year, with over 118,000 injuries and almost 1500 deaths.
- Using cruise control: When driving on icy pavement. Typically, cruise control creates an altered sense of safety when traveling in any dangerous weather condition.
Winter driving under these conditions makes it difficult to stop and control vehicles on icy pavement or black ice, even those equipped with four-wheel or all-wheel drive and winter tires.
These weather-related accidents can become even more deadly when coupled with the usual causes of car accidents, such as distraction,speeding, dangerous winter driving conditions, and reckless driving.
Temporary Winter Car Insurance
Purchasing temporary car insurance during the winter months is beneficial to those living in snowy regions throughout the United States that deal with extremely cold temperatures. This type of car insurance comes at an additional cost but can provide significant coverage if involved in a catastrophic accident.
Motorists in some states cannot cancel their car insurance during the winter months because of the high probability of being involved in a catastrophic accident. Usually, the car insurance company will recommend policy limit coverage to avoid any need to sell off assets to pay for damages if involved in an accident.
Driving Safely In Chicago, IL Winter Weather
Anyone who has spent a winter in Chicago, Illinois, or anywhere in the state knows that the roads may become slick and challenging to drive on through the winter months.
Ice, snow, and wet pavement cause stopping distances to increase and may contribute to sliding, fish-tailing, and other losses of control. In addition, snow, sleet, and fog may make it difficult to see, increasing the odds of an auto accident.
To stay safe and prevent traffic accidents during a Chicago winter, OSHA suggests following the three “Ps” of winter driving safety: prepare, protect, and prevent.
Below are ways to put these into action when faced with dangerous winter weather conditions and injuries.
- Prepare for driving: Make sure your vehicle is prepared for winter driving. Use winter tires, maintain your vehicle, and allow extra driving time for poor-quality trips.
- Protect yourself: Always use your seat belt and bring water, blankets, and food for long trips in case you get stuck in a storm.
- Prevent Accidents: Use extra precautions when driving in Chicago’s winter weather conditions. Slow down and pay attention to the road. Do not talk or text on your phone, don’t drink alcohol before driving, and increase your vehicle’s distance from the vehicle you are following.
Winter Auto Accident FAQs
Below are some frequently asked questions raised by people injured in weather-related car accidents in and around Chicago, IL.
We appreciate that these questions may give rise to others. Consequently, we invite you to contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation and case review with an experienced car accident lawyer who can address your concerns.
What Weather Causes Most Car Crashes?
Icy roads and wet pavement during snow and rain contribute to most bad weather auto accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) , over 5,000 people die every year in motor vehicle accidents caused by inclement weather.
The number of wintery accident deaths involving snow and ice accounted for over sixteen percent of all car accident fatalities.
The failure of ice control operations can lead to catastrophic accidents when no winter road maintenance is done on time to ensure safety on the road.
What Happens When You Get in a Wreck, and It’s Your Fault?
If law enforcement or an investigator determines that you were at fault for causing an accident, you are likely responsible for paying for all damages to injured auto accident victims.
Other drivers,passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, and others involved in the car collision will likely have the right to file a compensation claim against you and your insurance company for their injuries.
Following the best winter driving tips can help avoid an at-fault accident on slippery streets and highways. Maintaining auto insurance can provide your family the best protection in the case of a crash deemed to be your fault.
Inadequate auto insurance could create a liability issue where you are required to sell off assets to pay the injured victim’s damages.
How Does Winter Weather Affect Traffic?
Bright days, inclement weather, and windy conditions may impair the motorist’s visibility, making driving harder. The vehicle’s performance may also diminish quickly when slippery surfaces and wet roadways decrease motor vehicle maneuverability, stability, or traction.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, slippery surfaces also diminish pavement friction during the winter. Traffic flow and dangerous road infrastructure may also affect traffic dramatically, placing motorists and passengers at risk of injury or death from a bad weather car crash.
How Do Insurance Companies Determine Fault?
Once an accident victim files a claim to recover compensation, the insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to handle the case. The adjuster will likely review police reports, medical records, and the accident scene to determine what happened and who might be at fault.
In some cases, it may not just be one person’s fault, but two or more drivers who were partially responsible for causing the winter weather car wreck. Many accidents may have been caused by various factors, including Chicago, Illinois, winter driving hazards include:
Who Is at Fault in Some Stops Too Quickly in Front of You?
Every bad weather accident has unique circumstances that may determine who is at fault for causing the crash. However, when another motorist cuts in front of your vehicle, you likely need to swerve out of the way to avert being hit.
If swerving out of your lane causes you to leave the roadway and hit another vehicle or utility pole, the other driver is likely liable for causing your collision. Vehicle accident attorneys working on your behalf may hire investigators to help identify precisely what happened and who was at fault.
Who Is at Fault for an Accident in a Parking Lot?
Any driver pulling in or backing out of a parking space must yield the right-of-way to all existing traffic. If the driver backed out and hit a pedestrian or another vehicle, they could likely be found responsible for all injuries.
During inclement weather in the cold winter months, drivers should operate their vehicle defensively to avoid hitting others or driving into snowbanks and curbs on the slippery snow, ice, and sleet surfaces in a parking lot or parking garage.
Chicago Vehicle Accident Lawyer Familiar With Wintry Snow & Ice Collisions
Winter car accidents may cause severe injuries and fatalities that may change your life and your family’s lives forever. While adverse weather may contribute to an accident, driver error is usually involved.
Are you the victim of a serious winter driving accident caused by another driver? You will want an experienced Chicago, Illinois, auto accident lawyer to ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries and losses.
As with all of our auto accident cases, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC focuses on establishing what another driver did wrong and helping you recover compensation for your injuries. Contact us now before you speak to an insurance company.
Contact us, your Chicago vehicle accident lawyers, at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free case review. All discussions with our law firm remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send sensitive information to our law office through cell phone, voicemail, email, or text message.
All information you, a loved one, or a family member shares with our injury lawyers remains confidential through the attorney-client relationship. Call our law firm for your free case review now.