Virginia’s winters are often accompanied by a marked increase in automobile accidents. Each year, thousands of motorists are injured while navigating winter storms and holiday-time congestion. While many accident-related injuries result in only minor inconveniences, serious collisions can have life-altering consequences.
The Most Common Causes of Winter Motor Vehicle Accidents
While Virginia might be a Southern state, the Old Dominion is still subjected to severe winter storms every year. On average, Virginia receives over a foot of snow annually, with accumulations often higher in the Blue Ridge Mountains and adjoining hills.
However, while snow might be a common cause of winter-weather accidents, there are other potential causes for crashes.
Snow, sleet, and hail can significantly reduce a driver’s ability to brake with adequate stopping distance. This makes it more difficult for otherwise competent motorists to steer their vehicle away from an oncoming car or obstacle.
Virginia’s position along the Eastern Seaboard ensures that our state’s climate remains reasonable year-round, especially when compared to other locations at similar latitudes. However, Virginia’s pleasant climate means that many drivers lack the experience needed to safely navigate inclement winter weather.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that automobile accidents tend to spike during the winter holidays. Thanksgiving and the period between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day traditionally experience a surge in drunk driving incidents, putting everyone on the road at risk.
Poor Vehicle Maintenance
Since snow, sleet, and even rain can compromise a driver’s ability to brake safely, proper vehicle maintenance is critical to avoiding accidents. When motorists fail to keep their automobiles in safe condition, they could be found liable for the costs of any resulting accidents.
Critical Tips for Avoiding Wintertime Automobile Accidents
Winter driving carries significant risks. However, many of these risks can be mitigated by taking common-sense precautions, including the following:
- Stay off the roads during severe storms whenever possible.
- Ensure that your brakes are serviced and in good condition.
- Ensure that your tire tread is sufficient to maintain traction in wet conditions.
- Do not brake abruptly in snowy or icy conditions—instead, gently “pump” your brakes until you come to a complete stop.
- Exercise increased caution when approaching intersections and stop signs.
- Be aware that some winter weather-related conditions, such as black ice, can be difficult to detect. Black ice, for example, may only be evident by its characteristically glossy appearance.
What to Do After a Winter Motor Vehicle Collision
Since motorists tend to be traveling at lower speeds in snow storms, the resulting injuries tend to be less severe. However, each year, thousands of Virginia motorists are seriously injured or killed in wintertime automobile collisions. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a crash that was not your fault, you should protect your rights by taking the following steps:
- Call 911.
- Seek immediate medical attention, even if you do not believe that you have been seriously injured.
- Collect evidence from the crash site. Evidence could include photographs of the damage to your vehicle, pictures of any visible injuries, and a recorded recounting of the events leading up to the accident.
- If someone witnessed your accident, ask for their full name, phone number, and other contact information. Their testimony could prove critical in court.
- Contact an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney.
While Virginia does not currently cap the damages available in most winter weather-related car accidents, the Old Dominion has a strict statute of limitations that limits how long you have to take action. If you wait too long to file your claim, the court could dismiss your case, preventing you from securing the compensation you need and the justice you deserve.
Contact an Experienced Virginia Personal Injury Attorney
Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC has decades of experience aggressively advocating for the rights of Virginia motor vehicle accident victims. Please send us a message online, or call us at 877-652-1553 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible.