The Potential Consequences of Failing to Clear Snow and Ice from Your Car
In Pennsylvania, as in other states, the failure to remove snow and ice from your vehicle can be the basis for liability in a personal injury lawsuit. It can also result in a traffic citation. Here’s how it works.
In most personal injury claims (such as a motor vehicle accident lawsuit), the legal theory supporting financial recovery is negligence. To prove negligence, an injured person must first show that the defendant (person alleged to have caused the harm) failed to meet the accepted standard of care. As the law of personal injury has evolved over centuries, it has been premised on the expectation that all persons will exercise reasonable care in all activities, so as not to pose an unreasonable risk of injury to others. The duty to use reasonable care applies to maintaining one’s home, manufacturing and marketing a product and driving a motor vehicle. The question that would be posed, in a motor vehicle accident claim, is whether it was reasonable to expect that the driver would remove snow and ice from the vehicle. If it was, and if the failure to do so caused or contributed to the accident that caused the injury, the driver may be liable.
In 2006, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a law that also made the failure to remove snow and ice a criminal violation. Enacted in response to the death of a woman after a huge chunk of ice flew off a semi and shattered her windshield, the law imposes a fine of up to $1,000 on any person who has snow or ice fall from his or her car and cause injury to another driver, a passenger or a pedestrian.
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At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie & Seelaus, we offer experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel to individuals in Pennsylvania. To set up an appointment for a free initial consultation, call us at 610-565-4055 or contact us online.