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winter driving; icy road conditions

Driver Liability When Ice Causes Accident in Wisconsin

When icy roads cause an accident in Wisconsin, who’s liable?

When winter arrives in Wisconsin, drivers will face icy road conditions. Almost inevitably, this leads to accidents. A driver applies the brakes, his or her car slides, and it collides with the vehicle in front. When it happens, you need to determine who has to pay for the damages.

If the police file a report on an accident, they will usually identify the driver who is at fault for causing the accident. It may seem unfair; if you hit a patch of ice, you often lose control of your vehicle. In these situations, though, icy roads are just part of the conditions in which you drive.

How Negligence Works

Wisconsin uses the tort system for driver negligence. This means that after an accident, the driver who is more at fault is responsible for damages. The weather is certainly a determining factor in the winter months, but claiming that the ice caused the accident will not help anyone avoid liability.

Negligence comes when one person owes a duty to another, and fails to fulfill that duty. On the roads in Wisconsin, part of this is a duty of care toward other drivers. If one vehicle drives or slides into another, barring unusual circumstances, the driver who hits the other vehicle will be found negligent.

The Duty to Adapt to Road Conditions

As anyone who drives regularly in Wisconsin knows, ice in winter is not an unusual circumstance. Part of your duty as a driver is to adapt to the conditions you find on the road. This means driving at slower speeds and keeping a greater distance between you and any vehicles in front of you. If you fail to do so, and slide on an ice patch and hit another vehicle, you will generally be found negligent.

Similarly, if another driver hits you on an icy road, you have a right to recover damages from that driver. Insurance companies usually offer quick settlements to cover these damages, but you have a right to speak with an attorney. Before you accept an offer, contact Eisenberg Law Offices to help protect your rights.