Posted March 10, 2017 | Vehicle Accidents
Pennsylvania has enjoyed a few beautiful, early spring days this year, but winter isn’t quite finished yet. With a chilly blast of winter weather in the forecast for mid-March, there’s still a risk that snow and ice could lead to car accidents later this month. But while most winter weather crashes are caused by ice or snow on the road, did you know that ice or snow on a vehicle can also create a serious, potentially lethal hazard? Philadelphia car crash lawyer Brent Wieand explains Pennsylvania’s law about winter accidents caused by snow or ice coming loose from another driver’s vehicle.
It’s impossible to drive safely while your vision is obscured, so most drivers take pains to clean off their windshields and mirrors whenever winter weather strikes. Unfortunately, drivers aren’t always so thorough when it comes to the other parts of their cars, such as the roof or the sides of the vehicle. After all, having snow on the roof doesn’t obscure the driver’s vision, so what’s the point of removing it?
Avoiding a major accident, to begin with – not to mention an expensive fine.
If you think accumulated snow and ice on a car is incapable of causing a serious crash, think again: there have actually been multiple cases of people becoming seriously or even fatally injured by ice, snow, and other debris flying off of cars and trucks. Last February, for instance, 73-year-old Judith Donaghy of North Hero, VT sustained serious facial injuries after an ice fragment broke loose from the roof of a nearby tractor-trailer, breaking through her windshield as she traveled down Route 2.
Canadian radio personality Sandra Plagakis survived a similar scenario in January 2015. Like Donaghy’s vehicle, Plagakis’ vehicle was also struck by a piece of ice that flew from the roof of a truck near her vehicle. Luckily, Plagakis escaped injury – but the experience opened her eyes to the dangers of ice deposits on vehicles.
“When you see a chunk of ice fly at you,” Plagakis said, “you don’t think it has that kind of power.” She added, “That thing hit my windshield square on. Like a direct hit.”
Fortunately, Plagakis took the safest course of action by immediately reducing her speed and continuing to drive straight, knowing that veering could trigger a multi-vehicle pileup. But not all drivers have the same presence of mind – or, if they have been injured by ice or broken glass, the physical ability – to continue operating their vehicles safely. Thus, flying ice poses a serious danger not only to occupants of the struck vehicle itself, but also to the other drivers (and passengers) on the road, who could be forced into swerving off the road or into oncoming traffic, where they could be hit by other vehicles.
Federal laws do not establish requirements pertaining to ice and snow deposits on vehicles, instead leaving the issue to each state. In Pennsylvania, the law regulating snow and ice on vehicles is located at 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3720, which provides, in full, the following:
“When snow or ice is dislodged or falls from a moving vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing death or serious bodily injury, the operator of the vehicle from which the snow or ice is dislodged or falls shall be subject to a fine of not less than $200 nor more than $1,000 for each offense.”
As you can see, the law creates financial penalties for drivers who cause injury or wrongful death by failing to clear their vehicles, which creates a strong incentive for drivers to scrape their cars thoroughly. In addition to the fine, a driver who causes damage may be held civilly liable for harms and losses caused by their negligence.
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by ice, snow, or other debris or cargo flying off of a car, passenger truck, commercial truck, or other type of vehicle, you should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia, like Brent Wieand, to review your legal options in a free consultation. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, it may be possible for you to obtain financial compensation for medical bills, income losses, and other losses resulting from your injuries. To learn more about Pennsylvania car accident injury compensation in a free and confidential legal consultation, contact the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (877) 654-3887 today.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*