Who’s Responsible for Winter Weather-Related Injuries?
Arctic vortexes, record low temperatures, snow and massive ice storms: the winter of 2013 – 2014 could possibly be the coldest winter ever in Georgia. The bitter weather was accompanied by an increase in winter weather-related accidents. Some of these accidents may have been “Acts of God.” However, some may have been the direct result of negligence or recklessness on the part of an individual or business.
Winter weather was a factor in hundreds of car accidents. Ice and snow certainly make driving more dangerous. However, weather alone is no excuse for driving negligently. Many winter car and truck crashes were caused by:
- Failing to adjust driving to weather conditions
- Not maintaining a safe distance from the car ahead
- Driving too fast for road conditions
- Over-reliance on four-wheel drive
- Inadequately preparing the vehicle for ice or snow
Drivers who fail to take these precautions may be liable for injuries in the accidents they cause.
Shanta Greene lost a leg and suffered brain damage and other injuries when a tree limb fell on her car in 2010. In December 2013, Savannah agreed to pay $9.5 million to settle a lawsuit claiming that the city was negligent in caring for the tree. Towns have a responsibility to inspect trees for defects and weaknesses that might cause ice-covered limbs to drop during winter storms.
Business owners are responsible for maintaining their properties to protect the public from accidents. This includes removing ice and snow in order to avoid slip and fall accidents. Landlords may be responsible if faulty heaters lead to carbon monoxide poisoning or fires.
Prolonged exposure to severe cold weather can lead to hypothermia or frostbite. If not treated correctly by medical professionals, these conditions can lead to the loss of extremities or even death.
If you or a loved one was injured this winter because of someone else’s negligence, you may have a right to damages. A skilled personal injury attorney can help.