Unfortunately, car crashes happen to even the safest of drivers. Insurance industry groups estimate that the average motorist will be in four to six traffic collisions during their lifetime. While any collision is stressful, a car accident is all the more complicated during adverse winter weather.
Winter weather accidents are a risk in western Washington. It is crucial that drivers know what to do after a crash and how to properly prepare for the winter driving season. In this article, our Seattle car accident lawyers highlight the key things you need to know about winter weather driving in Washington.
Know the Dangers of Winter Driving in Washington
It is no surprise that winter weather increases the risk of an accident. Winter is associated with the potential for slick roads, reduced visibility, and a greater percentage of nighttime driving. Unfortunately, while most people are broadly aware of the risks of driving in adverse winter weather, crashes remain a very serious public safety problem. According to a report from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), approximately 115,000 people are injured and 1,300 people are killed in winter weather-related accidents each year.
Washington drivers need to be ready for winter weather. The FHWA classifies the entire state as a ‘snowy region’—regions where adverse winter weather is likely to occur at least a few times per year. Although the City of Seattle only averages a few inches of snow annually, you do not have to travel far towards the Cascades to get to areas that receive enormous amounts of snow each year.
Six Steps to Take If You are Involved in a Winter Car Accident
Following a winter traffic collision, it is imperative that you know how to protect your health, your family, and your legal rights. There are some basic things to do to put yourself in the best position to recover from the collision. Here are six steps that you should take after a winter weather motor vehicle accident in Washington:
- Stop Your Vehicle: Under Washington law, all drivers are required to stop their vehicle and remain at the scene of a collision, except for emergency medical needs. You should get immediate medical care for any serious injuries.
- Call the Police: If someone was hurt or there was significant property damage, the crash should be reported to law enforcement. Call the police right away.
- Control the Scene: Winter weather collisions can be especially frightening. You need to get yourself and your family to safety. Whether that means staying somewhere warm or moving away from a slick stop where a moving vehicle could slide, safety should always come first.
- Exchange Information and Document the Crash: The more information you have, the easier it will be to bring a car accident injury claim. Beyond exchanging information with the other driver(s) involved in the wreck, make sure you take pictures of the crash and the road, and record any other relevant details.
- Seek Medical Care for Any Injuries: All car accident injuries should be evaluated by a doctor. Even if you do not require emergency care, make sure you get an examination. You cannot bring a car accident injury claim for compensation without medical records.
- Be Ready to Call a Lawyer: If you or your loved one was hurt in a crash, it is best to consult with a car accident attorney before giving a statement to an insurance adjuster—even if that representative is from your own insurer.
How to Prepare Your Vehicle for the Winter Driving Season
With winter driving in our region, careful preparations can make all of the difference. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recommends that motorists take the following four precautions:
- Put together a winter weather road safety kit, including blankets, hand warmers, flashlights, and bottled water;
- Drive slower and leave additional distance between vehicles;
- Make sure you have the proper traction on your tires; and
- Check the road and weather conditions before starting your trip. When in doubt, do not drive.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Car Accident Attorney in Seattle
At The Walthew Law Firm, our Washington car accident injury lawyers fight aggressively to protect the rights and interests of our clients. If you or someone you know was hurt in a winter weather traffic collision, we are available to help. Contact our firm now for a free, no obligation initial consultation. We represent motor vehicle accident victims throughout Western Washington, including in Seattle, Tacoma, Renton, Lakewood, Bremerton, Marysville, and Lynnwood.