Can You Sue for Unplowed Roads After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
Keeping the roads clear of ice and snow is an important service the government provides in the winter months. In Pennsylvania, it’s common to see schools and businesses close early when snow is expected. The salt trucks and snow plows are supposed to keep the road safe, but sometimes they fail to clear your road or leave large tracks of street unplowed. If you were involved in a car accident due to uncleared snow or ice, talk to an attorney. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm offer free consultations on car accident cases.
Suing for Snow and Ice Car Accidents
When you’re involved in a car accident, the other drivers are not necessarily the only people responsible for the accident. In a car accident lawsuit, the judge and jury look at the totality of the circumstances, and your lawyer may present multiple parties that are responsible for the accident. If the accident involved more than two drivers, each of the other drivers may have shared some fault in causing the accident. If there were unsafe road conditions, you may also be able to hold the government partly responsible for the crash.
It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that their roads are safe for travel. On state-operated roads, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a duty to plow roads, salt for ice, and otherwise ensure that the roads are reasonably safe for travel. In cities, the city government usually takes up that responsibility. With over 2,575 miles of roads in the City of Philadelphia alone, this is a difficult task.
When the roads are not properly plowed, car accidents happen. Swerving or skidding out of control is common on icy or snowy roads. While many drivers are able to recover from a slide and prevent an accident, others are not as lucky. If the snow was a major factor in causing the crash, and the city or state should have cleared that snow, they may be partly liable for your car accident injuries.
In Pennsylvania, courts can divide fault among multiple parties. This is called a “comparative negligence” rule. In this system, each party is assigned some percentage of the fault – even the victim, if they were partly at fault. Ultimately, each responsible party pays their share of the damages according to their share of the fault.
Holding the Government Liable for Dangerous Road Conditions
Courts may take multiple factors into account when determining whether or not the failure to plow was a contributing cause of the accident. First, it is important to consider the severity of the snowstorm. If the roads are completely snowed-in, it is far too dangerous for anyone to be out on the roads. It will take the plows some time to get out there and clear the snow. In many cases, if the accident occurred before the plows had a chance to make the roads safe, it may not be the government’s fault.
On the other hand, if plows missed a road that they should have cleared on their route, the blame could easily be assigned to the government. Failing to plow a road, missing a section of road, or failing to clear the street all the way from curb to curb may be the kind of problem a court would hold the government liable for.
The court should also take into account specific details of the scenario. If the government’s plan for clearing snow called for clearing the road on a certain schedule, but the plow driver was far behind schedule or deviated from the plan, they may be responsible for the accident. Additionally, poor plow upkeep resulting in mechanical failure and inability to plow may also be the government’s fault.
Ultimately, the facts of your case determine whether or not the government’s actions fell below the required standard. If they failed to use the proper care in clearing snow, your crash may be partly their fault. Whether the car accident was a single car crash or a multivehicle collision, you may be able to hold the government partly liable for your car accident injuries.
Philadelphia Car Accident Attorneys
If you are considering suing the government for contributing to your car accident by failing to plow the streets, talk to an attorney. There are statutes and rules that may prohibit you from suing the government in certain circumstances, and it is vital to consult with a lawyer on your case rather than relying upon insurance to handle it for you. For a free consultation on your car accident claim, talk to a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer today. The attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm have decades of experience handling car accident cases in Pennsylvania and may be able to help. For your free consultation, call (215) 246-9000 today.