A lot of people ask questions about automobile negligence cases involving driving in the snow. The law in Maryland, is essentially that an operator of a car must use reasonable care under the circumstances. When there is snow or ice, reasonable care would require that the driver use even more care and caution than if it was a clear sunny day. General negligence law applies to all weather conditions-rain, sleet, snow, sun, and hail.
Our D.C. car accident attorneys represent many people who have been injured as a result of Maryland car accidents that occur in the snow or in ice conditions. A common situation is that a defendant driver will slide or skid on ice and rear end the vehicle in front of him. The passengers of the front vehicle would make a negligence claim against the insurance company and driver of the vehicle that skidded into them. Most cases like this would settle and the insurance company would accept liability because a driver who strikes another vehicle in the rear is typically assumed to have not acted with reasonable care under the circumstances. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals explained that “…a true evidentiary presumption of negligence arises where a motor vehicle is lawfully stopped on a highway awaiting for traffic to clear before entering an intersecting highway and that vehicle is suddenly struck from behind by another vehicle, resulting in personal injuries and property damage to the driver and the front vehicle. See McClain, Maryland Evidence, sec. 301.1(e) (1987). From that presumption, a trier of fact may reasonably infer negligence on the part of the driver of the following vehicle.”Andrade v. Housein 147 Md. App. 617, 623, 810 A.2d 494, 498 (Md. App., 2002).
If the case were to go to trial, the fact finder (a judge or jury) could find that the striking driver who skidded on ice did not act negligently, and that the accident occurred because of the ice or snow. While most of the time the plaintiff/claimant would prevail in this situation, accidents in the snow and on ice create an additional obstacle that must be overcome. Our trial lawyers are aware of this additional hurdle, and will typically prepare the case to prove that the accident did not happen just because of the ice or snow, but because the adverse driver did not act reasonably, that he was either speeding (going too fast), distracted (listening to the radio or on cell phone), negligently maintained his vehicle (no snow tires?) or made an error in judgment in choosing to travel in the snow.
The bottom line is that plaintiffs win most rear end collision cases-even when the car accident occurs in the snow. If you are involved in a car accident involving ice or snow, call our personal injury lawyers in Silver Spring so that we can protect your rights. (301) 589-2999. We handle cases in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.