An accident occurred outside Blairsburg this past Sunday night and the story was picked up by the news service. They reported two people died and one was injured. Here is how it was described:

A Chevy was southbound on Highway 69 when “it lost control and swerved into the path of a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer heading north. The Mountaineer struck the passenger side of the van. According to the Iowa State Patrol report, weather conditions caused the accident but it is still under investigation.”

I’ve written about this type of collision before; one in which weather is a component of the accident sequence. Granted weather can be a factor but it can seldom be the cause of a collision. What is the likely cause is the car’s operator driving too fast for the conditions, including the weather and road surface. Of course balding tires, mismatched tires or tires without enough tread can also contribute, but weather alone can not cause an accident.

The Iowa State Patrol report hasn’t yet been published so we can’t check to see exactly what the State Trooper reported but here is another example that demonstrates my point on placing blame on the weather.

On February 26, 2009 there was a single vehicle accident in Plymouth County in which Ramiro Barbo was the driver and died in the collision. What the Trooper wrote for the narrative was the following:

VEHICLE 1 WAS EAST BOUND ON C-38. THE DRIVER LOST CONTROL ON THE ICE COVERED HIGHWAY AND THE VEHICLE ENTERED THE SOUTH DITCH. IT OVERTURNED AND CAME TO A REST ON ITS WHEELS. THE DRIVER WAS NOT WEARING HIS SAFETY HARNESS AND WAS EJECTED.

In the report the weather conditions are noted to include sleet, hail and freezing rain. The narrative points out the officer’s observation of an ice covered highway. Also the driver wasn’t wearing his seat belt and was ejected from the car's interior. The car was noted to have struck a fence, gone into the ditch and rolled over.  We have no indication of the tire tread conditions or if all the tires matched or were inflated properly. Also there is no indication of the cars speed, condition of the windshield and brakes. For all we know a deer could have run out in front of the driver and startled him. All of these are factors that might be considered in concluding a cause of the collision and resulting damages. The seat belt has nothing to do with causing the collision of the car but can have something to do with the collision of the man’s body as it was being ejected from the car and after the ejection.  The weather is only one factor and can not cause a collision. Only a driver not driving slow enough or with due care can cause the car to go out of control.

When the weather is bad, it’s as simple as slowing down. Take your foot off the gas pedal, and when you don’t slow down and crash, then stop blaming the weather.

To read more about this subject see the following articles posted on either the InjuryBoard.com Des Moines site or The Verdict, Lombardi Law Firm.

Slippery snow conditions blamed for crash and sued for road closing!

February 28, 2009 - 08:50 AM

What is negligence? As a juror how do I analyze facts when negligence is the issue? 

Sun-Times News Group also carried my analysis of negligence and how to analyze the facts.

 

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