How is fault determined for winter car accidents?

Winter driving can often be hazardous because of poor road conditions. Car accidents peak during bad weather because of road hazards like black ice, heavy snow, roads that haven’t been cleared, and drivers who don’t respect weather conditions.

Determining Fault

Accidents will happen. Insurance companies will make some allowance for road conditions, but it remains the driver’s responsibility to avoid becoming involved in an accident. When bad road conditions are at play, the insurance company will take a hard look at the conditions and surrounding circumstances. For example, if you lost control of your car because of slippery surfaces and slid through an intersection and caused an accident, you may be quick to blame the poor condition of the road for the accident. The insurance company, however, will place much of the blame on you for failing to take extra precautions when driving in less than favourable conditions.

No matter what time of year an accident occurs, the insurance company must always make a determination of fault. Note- this is a very different process than a police department who can elect to forgo charging a driver with a driving offence because road or weather conditions which were primarily responsible for the infraction or accident.  Nova Scotia has a system where set fault determination rules create the baseline for blameworthiness for an accident. However, the fault can be altered based on the circumstances at the time of the accident. Some accidents will be ruled 50-50 fault because two drivers lost control and collided due to bad weather.

If you were found at fault

If you were found at fault for an accident and you believe the determine is wrong or unfair, you can appeal the decision. You can cite bad weather or road conditions as a reason you should not be found at fault. As noted above, the insurance company will not, by default, consider several environmental factors which may alter the division of blame for the accident. The best evidence will always be to show the insurance company that it was another party that was at fault, rather than weather.

Avoiding winter driving accidents

One of the best ways to prevent a winter driving accident is to be prepared for poor road conditions. Be sure that your car is ready for winter – before winter hits. Be sure to have winter tires with good tread, anti-freeze windshield fluid, and clean headlights and mirrors. Plan an extra few minutes so that you don’t have to rush.

Winter Car Accidents- get help now!

Have you been involved in a winter car accident in Halifax, Nova Scotia? If so, please email Jeff Mitchell or call us 902.442.8853 now for a FREE CASE REVIEW. We will be sure to explain the fault determination rules that apply to your situations and work with you to ensure that you are adequately compensated for your injuries and vehicle damage.