After the consistent snowfall the Chicago area has received in the last few weeks and the most recent winter storm, snow plow operators have been working overtime to clear the roads for drivers. While clearing snow undoubtedly makes the roads safer, snow plow accidents do happen sometimes and they pose a significant risk to the drivers involved. These vehicles weigh thousands of pounds and typically travel at 35 mph, so they can do a lot of damage to other vehicles, bikers, and pedestrians.
Snow plows are on the road during some of the most dangerous times, so they have the extra challenge of navigating with low visibility and icy roadsNBC recently reported that the City of Chicago alone had deployed at least 200 snow plows in preparation for the weekend storm. And just the other week, a snow plow collided with a pickup truck in Arlington Heights. If you want to see the risks for yourself, the internet has no shortage of dashcam footage that shows just how catastrophic snow plow accidents can be. So what typically causes these accidents and what can you do if you are the victim of a snow plow crash?
What causes snow plow accidents?
- Hazardous driving conditions caused by bad weather. Snow plows are on the road during some of the most dangerous times to drive, so they have the extra challenge of navigating with low visibility and icy roads. In fact, low visibility tends to be a leading cause of snow plow accidents.
- Reckless driving or distracted driving cause thousands of car crash deaths every year, but are even more unsafe during bad weather. Risks like speeding or texting during a winter storm can put you at further risk of a collision with a snow plow.
- Drivers trying to pass snow plows. The job of snow plow drivers is snow removal, making the road a safer place to drive. But other motorists on the road don’t always realize this when they’re in a hurry. Some drivers make the mistake of trying to go around the plow, creating a highly accident-prone situation. Driving behind the plow is the safest place to drive because the snow is freshly cleared.
- The size and weight of the snow plow is why attempting to overtake a snowplow is so dangerous. If a motorist goes around the plow and slides or spins out due to the unplowed road, the snow plow operator can’t always stop quickly to avoid a collision.
- Blind spots are also problematic for snow plow drivers. If a snow plow driver is surprised due to a vehicle being in their blind spot or they don’t realize a vehicle is trying to pass them, there’s not much leeway for their reaction time.
- Fatigued drivers are unfortunately a serious problem. During a major snowstorm like the one that hit the U.S. recently, snow plow drivers are often spread thin and working overtime to clear snow. Heavy snowfall causes a heavy workload, so drivers are often running on only a few hours of sleep. This can impact a driver’s judgement and reaction time.
- Intoxicated or impaired operators – While snow plow drivers have to go through training in order to operate this type of vehicle, there are those who strictly follow their training and there are outliers who are negligent. Intoxicated or impaired operators are a huge danger to public safety. With the extra care that it takes to safely operate a snow plow in hazardous conditions, drugs and alcohol slow down reaction times and impair judgment, making for a catastrophic situation.
How to avoid crashing with a snow plow
The best advice is to approach a snow plow with the same caution as you would a large truck on the highway. Due to the size and weight of the trucks, truck drivers don’t have the same stopping time as a smaller vehicle, so you have to account for that delay.
Snow plows make the road a safer place to drive, but other drivers on the road should know how to be safe around them. Don’t make the mistake of attempting to overtake a snow plow and don’t drive recklessly around them. Proper awareness of the caution needed around snow plows can significantly decrease the likelihood of a collision.
However, there are some occasions when the snow plow operator may be at fault. So what do you do if you or a loved one is injured by the negligence of a snow plow driver?
What are your rights if you’re in a snow plow accident?
If you suffered injuries from a snow plow accident that was caused by the negligence of the other driver, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. There are varying ways to go about this process and it all depends on who deployed the snow plow involved. For example, if you crashed with a snow plow deployed by the city you live in, your case would involve the local municipality. But other snow plow drivers are hired by private companies, so your case could be with them. If you file a claim, you’ll likely have to deal with the other party’s insurance company. The individual driver or even the manufacturing company may even be the other party in your case.
An attorney experienced in truck accident cases can give you legal advice and find the best approach for your case However, most snow plow accident claims are not product liability cases, in fact, they tend to be negligence or recklessness cases. There’s no way to know for sure about your case until you consult an expert in personal injury law. An attorney experienced in truck accident cases can give you legal advice and find the best approach for your case.
Especially in the case that the accident resulted in medical bills, lost wages, or pain and suffering, you have a fair chance at receiving compensation. Even if you are found partially at fault, it could still be possible to be compensated. In some states, being found partially at fault doesn’t allow you to claim damages. In Illinois however, Comparative Negligence Law protects drivers from that outcome. The amount of damages you can receive depends on your percentage of fault.
When to Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer
Following a crash involving a snow plow truck, it could be difficult to determine what to do next. A dedicated attorney that values the attorney-client relationship could help make the process easier for you or a family member. They could guide the injured party through each step of the legal process. An Illinois truck accident attorney can handle the legal portions of your claim while you focus on getting your life back on track. They can work to protect your case from aggressive insurance companies, gather evidence, and represent your interests in court.
Schedule a free consultation today with experienced truck accident attorney Mario Palermo and the law firm of Palermo Law Group at (630)684-2332 to determine your legal options.