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Signs of negligence: What to look for after an accident in winter

Winter weather and weary drivers are just part of the dangers faced by motorists in December. Because of the increased dangers, there are all sorts of tips available for drivers who are interested in staying safer during this time of year.

However, not everyone is as safety conscious as you are. Should you end up in a car accident and have to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to get your damages covered, one of the big questions that comes up in court is whether or not negligence was involved.

That makes it important, if you are in a car accident, to try to pay attention to as many details as you can. If possible, try to take a few pictures with your cell phone -- or ask someone else to do it for you, if you're injured.

What sort of things indicate that a driver didn't take his or her duty to be safety-conscious as seriously as he or she should have?

  • Bald tires or an almost non-existent tread can cause a vehicle to spin out on slick roads or have trouble breaking.
  • The use of cruise control on a wet, slippery road that's covered in snow, ice, sleet, rain or even the salt slurry that road crews throw down in anticipation of big storms.
  • Look for signs in the snow on the road that indicate where the other driver started to fishtail or spin out. That's probably the area where he or she actually put on the brakes. A driver should leave extra distance between his or her car and the next car ahead in snowy weather to avoid having to hit the brakes quickly.
  • Pay attention to anything the driver says right after the accident that might indicate he or she should have stayed home. Comments like, "I was just so tired!" or "I was rushing to get to the mall before closing," are powerful indicators that the driver's mind wasn't on driving.
  • Note whether the driver seems sick. It's cold and flu season. The driver may have taken over-the-counter medication that made it harder to stay alert while driving.

If you, a passenger or a witness notice any of these things, make sure to pass the information on to your attorney. A good accident investigator can often use this kind of information to uncover convincing proof of negligent driving.

Source: exchange.aaa.com, "Winter Driving Tips," accessed Dec. 08, 2017

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