Am I at fault for an accident caused by black ice?

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Am I at fault for an accident caused by black ice?

I was the only one involved in the accident. I was driving very cautiously around a bend and lost control of my car, which resulted in me driving off the road into a snow bank, causing a lot of damage to my car. This is a main road in my town that was unsalted. The officer that came to the scene informed me that 3 accidents happened before me that night in the same spot. The officer said the township was called multiple times to come out and salt and they did not. Should I be at fault?

Asked on February 14, 2011 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You would be at fault for the accident since it was a one car accident; however if comparative negligence is applicable in your state, you would not be entirely liable for the accident.  If comparative negligence is applicable, you could sue the township for the damage to your vehicle including the cost of repairs. 

Under comparative negligence, both you and the township would be liable for the accident and a percentage of liability would be attributed to each party.  For example, if the township is determined to be 70% negligent for not melting the ice and you are determined to be 30% negligent, you would be able to recover 70% of your damages (70% of the cost of repairs to your car) in a lawsuit against the township for negligence.  These figures are only for purposes of example and the final determination of comparative negligence will most likely have different figures.

You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by not selecting the most expensive place to repair your car, but selecting a body shop whose fees are comparable to others in the area.  If you don't mitigate damages, your damages will be reduced accordingly.

The township may have some rule which requires you to file a claim and after the claim is denied, then you can file the lawsuit.  If that is the case which is common when suing a municipality, it is important to comply with the filing deadline or you may lose your rights altogether in the matter.


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