Winter Car Accidents in Ohio & How to Drive in Ice & Snow | Kisling, Nestico & Redick
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If you are in a car accident due to snowy or icy conditions, knowing your rights is crucial.
Written by
KNR Legal
Date posted
November 27, 2023

Ohio’s winter weather brings its own set of challenges, particularly on the roads. In this guide, the Ohio injury team at KNR will walk you through Ohio’s laws regarding snow and ice on the roadways, and how they impact your ability to seek compensation if you are involved in a car accident.

Winter Tips for Ohio Drivers

As the temperature drops and it gets darker earlier, navigating around Ohio can get harder, even for the most experienced drivers. But everyday commutes can become perilous journeys when conditions include snow and ice. Whether you’re on I-70, 71 near Cleveland, 270 in Columbus, or a rural stretch of U.S. 23, you should know the basics of winter driving in Ohio.

From preparing your vehicle for harsh weather to understanding how to react in snowy emergencies, it’s wise to stay ahead of the winter woes and ensure your safety and that of others on the road with these winter driving tips.

Use Your Headlights in Inclement Weather

Ohio law mandates the use of headlights whenever visibility is compromised. This includes any time you need to use your windshield wipers due to snow, rain, or sleet. Headlights help you see the road better and make your vehicle more visible to others.

Prepare Your Vehicle for the Cold

Before hitting the road, your vehicle must be ready to handle Ohio winter conditions.

This includes:

  • Warm Up Your Car: Ensure your car is locked., but let your car warm up to clear all windows and mirrors of ice and fog, ensuring full visibility.
  • Tire Inspection: Check that your tires are properly inflated and have adequate tread depth to handle slippery surfaces.
  • Fluid Checks: Ensure that your antifreeze and windshield washer fluid are filled and suitable for low temperatures.
  • Battery Check: Cold weather can affect battery performance, so make sure your battery is in good condition.

Remove All Snow and Ice from Your Car

It’s not just courteous but a legal responsibility to clear your vehicle of snow and ice. Accumulated snow on your car, especially on the roof, can become a hazard as it can obstruct your view or fly off and endanger other motorists. In Ohio, failing to remove snow and ice could lead to liability if it causes an accident.

Reduce Your Speeds and Follow at Safe Distances

Adjust your driving to match the conditions. This often means driving below the posted speed limit and maintaining a greater distance from the vehicle in front of you.

Practice Skid Control

Understand how to control your vehicle in a skid. Generally, this involves steering in the direction you want to go and avoiding slamming on the brakes.

Keep an Emergency Kit & Plan Your Route

Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, including items like blankets, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, a snow shovel, and snacks. Also, be aware of the weather conditions in your area and plan your route accordingly. Avoid roads that are known to be more hazardous in snowy and icy conditions.

Winter Car Accidents Caused by Ice & Snow

All drivers should drive as safely as possible while out in inclement weather. This means not driving too fast for the conditions and keeping your distance. Unfortunately, accidents are bound to happen on slick and icy roads.

Winter Drivers Can Still Be Reckless

If another driver was doing their part to drive safely, and the weather was just too severe, an accident can be just that, and hopefully, the damage isn’t too severe. On the other hand, while icy road accidents are common, acts of negligence can lead to serious injuries and considerable losses.

If a reckless driver or another party’s negligent actions cause you significant injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation and able to hold the negligent party accountable.

For example, if another driver failed to clean their vehicle and a large chunk of snow and ice fell off, causing your vehicle to crash, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver.

You might also file a claim if the roadways are not safe. Local municipalities and the state are obligated to ensure they are clearing the roads promptly. Suppose government officials fail to clear certain streets or implement safety measures, or one of their vehicles causes a collision during inclement weather. In that case, you may have a claim against government agencies, municipalities, and other officials.

Can You Sue for Accidents on Icy Roads in Ohio?

In Ohio, winter weather conditions like snow and ice significantly increase the risks on the road. Here’s what you need to know about pursuing a lawsuit or insurance claim in these circumstances:

  • Negligence is Key: The foundation of a lawsuit in icy road accidents is proving negligence. If another driver’s failure to adapt to winter conditions leads to an accident, they may be considered negligent.
  • Claims Against Other Drivers: If another driver’s recklessness causes an accident by speeding, not using headlights, not removing ice and snow from their vehicle, etc. — you may have grounds for a lawsuit against that driver.
  • Claims Against Government Entities: Sometimes, the liability may extend to government bodies responsible for road maintenance. If an accident is due to failure to clear and treat roads properly, there might be a potential claim against local municipalities or state agencies. However, suing government entities can be complex due to certain immunities and notice requirements.
  • Comparative Negligence in Ohio: Ohio follows a modified comparative negligence If you are found to be partially at fault (e.g., not wearing a seatbelt or driving too fast for conditions), your compensation could be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you’re more than 50% at fault, you might be unable to recover damages.
  • Statute of Limitations: There’s a limited timeframe to pursue compensation after a winter car crash. In Ohio, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years from the date of the accident.
  • Icy Road Insurance Claims: You’ll likely need to file a claim with the relevant insurance companies before pursuing a lawsuit. In fault states like Ohio, the at-fault driver’s insurance is typically responsible for covering damages.
  • Document the Accident & Seek Medical Attention: It’s essential to document the accident, gather witness statements, and retain any evidence of weather conditions and the actions of other drivers. You’ll also want to have any injuries evaluated and treated by a doctor.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consulting with a personal injury attorney can be beneficial due to the complexities involved in winter weather accident cases. They can help determine liability, navigate the legal system, and advocate on your behalf for fair compensation.

Expect Resistance from the Insurance Company

Many claimants are surprised that the liable insurance company gives them a difficult time after attempting to seek the compensation and benefits they deserve after a winter car accident.

Remember that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. Every time they payout on a claim, they lose money. You can expect the insurance company to attempt to argue that you are (at least partially) at fault for causing the accident.

In icy road or snow-related accidents, it’s common to see initial low-ball settlement offers from companies trying to make your claim go away fast. It’s wise to consult a lawyer before accepting or admitting any degree of fault. This helps ensure all your losses are accounted for and prevents you from making statements that hurt your claim. 

KNR Can Help After a Winter Car Accident

When the harsh winter weather leads to a car accident, the experienced attorneys at Kisling, Nestico & Redick stand ready to assist. Our team brings a deep understanding of Ohio’s winter road conditions and the legal landscape to every case we handle.

With a passionate commitment to helping injury victims, KNR has a record of success, securing substantial settlements and verdicts that reflect the actual value of our clients’ losses. We know that the aftermath of a winter car accident is not just about repairing a vehicle – it’s about getting compensation for the wages you lost, the medical bills you’ve incurred, and the pain and suffering you endured.

At KNR, we’re dedicated to ensuring that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries and associated losses. Our approach is comprehensive and compassionate, taking the burden off your shoulders so you can focus on healing.

The liable party can be held accountable when snow and ice contribute to your accident. Find out how when you call KNR. Schedule your no-cost, risk-free consultation today at 1-800-HURT NOW or fill out our convenient contact form. We will contact you to learn more about your car accident damages.