The Buffalo News reports today a fatal Western New York car accident in the Town of Perry, Wyoming County, New York at about 8 a.m on Route 20A, near Smith Road. Driver number 1 was heading west on 20A when she lost control of her pickup, police said. Her vehicle crossed over into the oncoming lane of traffic. While this driver suffered injuries, the passenger of the oncoming car was killed. The driver of the oncoming car was also injured. Both were sent to Erie County Medical Center. A passenger in the back seat of one of cars was taken to Wyoming County Community Hospital.
This is a unusually sad accident. So many lives affected! Everyone involved is injured, and one is dead.
As an upstate New York auto accident lawyer who has represented victims of snow and ice-related car crashes in the Syracuse, Buffalo, Oswego and the entire upstate “snow belt”, I have personal involvement with such accidents on a regular basis. While it is easy to blame such accidents on the weather, New York car accident law does not see it that way. Every driver in New York has an obligation to maintain control of his or her vehicle. This means that motorists must adjust their driving to the weather conditions. In icy, slippery conditions, a driver must drive slowly, at a speed prudent for the conditions. Other adjustments must be made as well, for example, braking earlier and following other vehicles at a greater distance. Having good snow tires helps, too. In a previous blog post, I gave some other tips about how to drive in icy conditions.
While insurance company lawyers representing drivers who failed to maintain control of their car in slippery conditions will often argue to the jury that their clients were blameless, and that the accident was “an act of God” (after all, God made it snow), in my experience this defense does not often work. When all the facts are carefully presented, it is hard to completely exonerate a driver who, for example, crosses over into the oncoming lane, even in icy conditions. In almost all such cases, a good New York auto accident attorney can prove that the driver knew, or should have known, that the roads were slippery, and that he was simply driving too fast for the conditions.
The proof is in the pudding. If you lose control of your car, then this proves you were driving too fast for the conditions. So slow down on that snowy, icy road.