Godwin, Morris, Laurenzi & Bloomfield, P.C.

Icy road may not free driver of liability for personal injury

When a motorist loses control of his or her vehicle on an icy roadway that does not mean that he or she is off the hook for liability to others injured in the accident. For example, the Tennessee Highway Patrol reported an accident recently in which a 29-year-old man was killed when he lost control of his vehicle on an icy road, crossed over into the oncoming lane and struck another vehicle. After investigations are completed and the facts fleshed out, it may be established that the driver acted negligently by driving too fast for conditions or otherwise failing to exercise due care under the circumstances. Such findings may make a deceased driver's estate liable for a personal injury sustained by another person as a result of his or her negligence.  

Police report that the man lost control on an icy part of the Andrew Johnson Highway near Strawberry Plains. He was heading west when he lost control and traveled into the eastbound lane, striking an SUV driven by a 44-year-old male. The driver of the jeep was uninjured, but there was an injured female passenger in the car driven by the decedent.

The 29-year-old female passenger in the deceased man's car was taken to a hospital with undisclosed injuries. If those injuries are serious, she may have a claim against the decedent's estate. In such situations, the automobile insurance that the deceased driver had on his vehicle would be responsible for paying for the damages suffered by anyone injured due to the accident.

Although icy roads and bad weather conditions can make driving treacherous, drivers are expected to slow down and drive according to the conditions in existence. A forensic examination of a crash site may show that a driver was driving too fast for icy conditions. Under Tennessee law, that would make the driver's estate responsible for a personal injury resulting from the accident.

Source: northwestgeorgianews.com, "Icy roadway blamed for fatal Knox County traffic accident", Feb. 17, 2015

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