Although the Atlanta area does not see nearly as much inclement weather during the winter months as cities in other parts of the country, Atlanta nonetheless does have a number of days below freezing and a small amount of sleet and snow. As such, it is essential for drivers to understand the risks of winter car accidents in Atlanta and what motorists can do in order to prevent these types of crashes.
According to data from WeatherSpark, January is the month when snowfall is most likely to occur in Atlanta when there is an average snowfall of just over one inch. Yet even when there is no snowfall, temperatures during the winter months routinely dip below freezing, which can result in icy road conditions and wintry mixes when precipitation is expected.
If you are planning to drive this winter, you should learn more about how wintry weather can play a role in causing serious and deadly collisions. You should also learn more about ways to avoid winter crashes and prepare your vehicle for safe winter driving. Finally, it is critical to understand more about filing a car accident claim after a winter weather collision in the Atlanta area. Our Atlanta car accident attorneys can provide you with more information.
You Can Take Steps to Avoid a Winter Weather Car Accident
- Do not drive at all if possible, and stay home until the weather has improved and the roads are more likely to be safe;
- Drive slowly — significantly below the speed limit — when there is winter weather;
- Slowly accelerate and decelerate to avoid skidding on icy roads;
- Increase your vehicle’s following distance by approximately five or six seconds, recognizing that inclement weather in the winter can make it more difficult to stop quickly and safely;
- Never stop when you are driving up a hill; and
- Have your vehicle maintained and prepared for winter driving before you go out on the roads, including having all of your fluids checked and topped off, having your battery checked, and having your tire treads checked (and your tires replaced if necessary).
You (and Your Vehicle) Can Be Prepared if a Winter Motor Vehicle Collision Does Happen
If a winter accident does occur, you can be prepared. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you should keep your interior dome light on so that oncoming traffic can see you, you should be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning risks from your exhaust, and you should keep blankets and a first aid kit in your car.
Motorists Can Be Liable Even If There Was Inclement Weather
Drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists on the road. That duty of care requires all drivers to behave as a reasonable driver would under the circumstances. Inclement weather in Atlanta means slowing down below the posted speed limit and leaving a greater following distance than usual. Accordingly, even if a driver was traveling at the posted speed limit in sleet or a wintry mix, that motorist might still have been negligent given the conditions and could be liable for an accident.
Comparative Fault Could Impact Your Case
What will happen if your own negligence plays a role in causing a winter weather collision? In other words, should you still file a lawsuit if you believe you could be partially at fault? For example, you might have failed to get your vehicle properly maintained before winter driving. Or you might have failed to slow down on the road even though visibility was low.
As long as another party is 50 percent or more at fault, Georgia’s comparative fault law says that you can still recover damages. Under Georgia’s modified comparative fault system, a plaintiff can recover damages as long as they are less than 50 percent at fault. As long as the defendant (or multiple defendants combined) is more liable than the plaintiff, the plaintiff can recover damages from the defendant, but the total damages award will be diminished by the plaintiff’s percentage of liability.
Your Claim Will Need to Be Filed in a Timely Manner
While you might initially start the process of seeking compensation after a winter car crash by filing an insurance claim, you will need to keep a close eye on the calendar. According to Georgia’s personal injury statute of limitations, you will only have two years from the date of the winter weather crash to file a lawsuit. Once that two-year clock runs out, your claim will become time-barred and you will be ineligible for obtaining compensation by filing a civil lawsuit.
Contact Our Atlanta Car Accident Lawyers Today
Were you injured in a motor vehicle collision in the Atlanta area? Whether you were injured during the winter months or you need to learn more about filing a claim for a crash that occurred at another time of the year, one of our experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys can assist you. We know that winter weather crashes are not as common in Atlanta as they may be in colder parts of the country, yet inclement weather can nonetheless play a role in many collisions during the winter months in Georgia.
An experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer at our firm can talk with you today about filing a lawsuit and seeking financial compensation for your injuries. Whether you are just starting the claims process with an auto insurance claim or you need help with a lawsuit, our firm is here to assist you. Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys online today or call our firm at (404) 529-3476 for more information about the services we provide to plaintiffs in car accident lawsuits in Georgia.