Winter driving is never easy. Between the snow, the wind, and the ice, there are multiple hazards for even the most seasoned driver to navigate. And unfortunately, even if you are careful and take every precaution, the other drivers on the road may not.
A winter car accident is therefore often unavoidable. How you react to an accident, however, is often something that remains in your control. With that in mind, here are some broad guidelines for dealing with a winter car accident.
- Remain Calm. This may sound obvious, but in many cases, what makes an accident worse is not so much the collision as how the driver and passengers react. Panic is never good, and this is especially so when a car accident occurs during bad winter weather. For example, when we believe the accident was the other driver’s fault, our first instinct is often to get out of our vehicle and tell that person off. But on an icy or snowy road, just stepping outside your vehicle may cause you to slip and fall on an icy road, causing or aggravating an injury. Remember, the best thing you can do in this situation is to remain calm and call 911 for assistance.
- Get Off of the Road if Possible. When dealing with a “fender bender” or a similar accident, your first priority should be pulling off the road. This not only removes you from potential danger, it helps to clear the highway for other drivers and, if necessary, emergency responders. Of course, if it is unsafe to pull off the road, either due to the condition of your vehicle or poor visibility, then as suggested above, you should stay put and call 911.
- Before an Accident Happens, Make Sure You Are Prepared.
Even when it is not winter, it is still a good idea to always keep your car or vehicle prepared with an emergency supply kit. A good kit includes, at a minimum, a properly inflated spare tire, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, reflective triangles (to help emergency responders find your vehicle), a first aid kit, drinking water, an extra charger for your smartphone, and a fire extinguisher. In preparing for winter driving, your emergency supply kit should also include basic snow removal items–e.g., a shovel, snow brush, extra windshield wiper fluid, et al.–as well as a blanket or extra clothing to keep you warm.
- Take Notes About the Accident.
While waiting for emergency responders, you should take down notes regarding the accident, either on a pad or your smartphone. It is best to jot down any details as soon as possible, as your memory may not always be 100 percent reliable later. You should take down basic details about what happened–where you were, the relative position of the vehicles at impact, the specific weather conditions, and so forth. You should obviously also exchange necessary contact and insurance information. And if it is safe to do so, use your smartphone to take pictures of your vehicles and the overall accident scene. All of this information can prove helpful later to the police in preparing a formal report, as well as your insurance company.
- Contact a Lawyer If You Have Been Injured.
A winter car accident can leave you with serious injuries that may take weeks or months to recover from. If those injuries were the result of another driver’s negligent winter driving, you have the right to demand compensation. Our experienced car accident attorneys can help. Contact the Telpner Peterson Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.