Car Accidents In The Winter

Winter Automobile Accidents Spike in PA

Automobile accidents occur all year long throughout the US. The state of PA, however, can see a definite surge in accidents in the winter months. Being mountainous and northern, PA has many winter weather issues impacting roadways and travel. 

N’oreasters, which are blizzards that blow in from the North, are common. Sudden snowsqualls that coat the roads within minutes and ice and thin sleet that can’t be seen are common. Most residents of PA refer to this ice coating as “black ice,” as it is not apparent until a vehicle skids.


Negligence Claims Can Ensue

Many injuries occur from winter car crashes. According to Chris Dolce, in an article written for, “Vehicle crashes due to winter weather are more deadly than other types of accidents.” (Dolce,, Feb. 6, 2022) (1). 

This article also states that more tragedies occur with ice and snow than hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods. Anyone living in PA can generally agree with these statements. 

This is also backed up by data from PennDot, which is the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Foggy conditions make driving even more difficult. PennDot does provide information on before and after storms and salt and plow roads. 

Liabilities and Duty of Care in PA for Roadways

PennDot only assumes the responsibility of keeping roads “passable.” The organization and the government of PA do not assume responsibility or liability outside of this. Conditions that occur suddenly also can impact the liability of PennDot for any tragedies. 

Most municipalities/townships also follow the guidelines set by PennDot, and severe dereliction of duty would have to occur for liability to be assigned for a winter-related automobile accident. 

This also applies to the state of PA itself. In other words, the fault or shortcomings of any government entity would need to be severe in nature. Shortages of the work crew and malfunctioning equipment do not constitute a true breach of Duty of Care. 

What is a Reasonable Duty of Care for Governments? 

The definition of Reasonable Duty of Care is quite simple. It is taking precautionary measures and exerting judgment that any individual would consider “reasonable.” 

A reasonable Duty of Care is expected, but nothing beyond that, and shifting and unmanageable weather conditions do also not breach this duty. There are options offered to the state of PA by guidelines outlined in FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). 

The use of FEMA would be warranted in extreme winter events beyond the capabilities of local governments. Ignoring the options could lead to a breach of the Duty of Care Negligence case. There are requirements within the state of PA that a certain amount of municipal/township workers be trained in FEMA techniques. 

Reasonable Duty of Care for Travelers/Drivers

While, of course, no one living in PA has a crystal ball and sudden weather conditions come without warning, accidents will occur, and unfortunately, so will horrific injuries or even death. 

Negligence cases when automobile accidents occur during bad weather have many factors to consider: 

  • Was anyone responsible? 

This is often not the case during weather conditions as the roadways become slick quickly, and averting an accident is sometimes not possible. 

  • Was carelessness involved? 

This can lead to a successful case for a plaintiff that was either seriously injured or if death occurred of a relative. Some drivers who speed and ignore the weather can be held liable for negligence. The Duty of Care also applies to drivers during all seasons. 

  • Was a driver impaired? 

No one impaired by drugs or alcohol should be driving. If an accident occurs during a storm, however, an impaired driver can face a negligence lawsuit plus fines, penalties, and even the loss of their license. 

  • Was the travel necessary? 

Usually, all townships and municipalities put out an “emergency alert” before an upcoming weather event, and the state of PA does post these on the website. Some travel is necessary, such as essential personnel who work at hospitals or other necessary services. 

Driving to a party, though, or running out simply to purchase something unnecessary can lead to a negligence claim if a driver is then involved in an accident. 

  • Was a tractor-trailer involved? 

It is known that automobile tractor-trailer accidents are more deadly and dangerous to drivers and passengers in cars. The difference in size and weight is a factor. 

Negligence During Weather Events are Difficult Claims

In summary, there are so many variables with the Duty of Care that only a seasoned attorney specializing in automobile accident negligence should represent any plaintiff. 

As shown throughout this article, the Duty of Care can be breached by many parties, including the drivers in storms. Proving that one party is more responsible than another is a craft honed by great automobile negligence attorneys. 

Christian J. Hoey, ESQ, and his team of professional staff, with over a decade of experience, are needed when these types of accidents occur in the Chester County Area of PA and other areas of PA. 

Remember the Statute of Limitations

This is also another crucial component in PA. The Statute of Limitations to bring a Negligence Case in any type of automobile accident is a mere two years, according to the latest data compiled by Forbes Magazine

Some states, such as Rhode Island, have up to ten years to file an automobile accident negligence claim, but that is not the case in PA. Much preparation must be done during this time, and a phone call or contact to Christian J. Hoey of Paoli, PA, is in order ASAP. 

The clock ticks rapidly on these cases, and rapid deployment of the team of HoeyLegal is necessary to effectively win any case of this type

For more information on all our law services, visit us at or call us at (610) 647-5151.

Distracted Driving

Pennsylvania defines distracted driving as “an activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving.” Drivers have to focus on driving, so they can react to the information on the road, such as road conditions, hazards and other drivers. Distracted drivers do not react appropriately and thus put others at risk for severe injury or death. Examples of distractions, besides using cell phones and texting, include drinking, eating, adjusting the radio, adjusting climate controls, adjusting seats, combing hair, putting on make-up, daydreaming, reaching for dropped items, engaging in heavy conversations, and focusing on events outside of the car.

Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence typically refers to alcohol use, but drug use can also impair drivers and cause severe car accidents.  In either situation, enjoying cocktails at happy hour, celebrating with drugs or alcohol, drinking too much wine for dinner and unwinding after a long week at work results in too many motorists driving under the influence.  Controlled substances impact each person differently, making it common for someone to misjudge his or her level of impairment.  These poor judgments can lead to severe and sometimes fatal car accidents.

Driver Fatigue

Driving without enough sleep is commonplace for many in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and across the nation. Truck drivers, shift workers, and those with sleep disorders are most vulnerable to causing an accident because they are drowsy or fatigued. Not having enough rest slows down reaction time and impairs the senses. In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) claims that eighteen (18) hours without sleep impairs a driver to the same extent as someone who has a 0.08 blood or breath alcohol concentration after consuming alcohol.


The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that one-third of all car accidents involve speeding. Drivers who rush, run late, or simply lack patience may choose to speed when they get behind the wheel. Speeding makes it more likely that a driver will lose control of his or her vehicle and makes it more difficult to react to road hazards and other vehicles. Speeding also increases the impact of a car accident and makes it far less likely that a negligent driver may maintain control of his vehicle sufficient to prevent a collision. High speed car accidents make it far more likely that those involved will suffer severe injuries or death.


At HoeyLegal, we know from our litigation experience that tractor-trailer drivers often operate at least one cellular phone which is in use at, during, or immediately prior to a tractor-trailer accident. Additionally, most tractor-trailers are equipped with data recorders which capture, in real-time, important vehicle operation events including speed, hard braking and other evasive maneuvers taken by the operator and the tractor-trailer.  It is imperative that this evidence be obtained before it is destroyed.  At HoeyLegal, our trial attorneys will obtain any necessary court order to preserve this evidence for trial.


Oftentimes, there are several defendants responsible for the tractor-trailer accident. In most cases, at least two defendants are responsible for the ownership and operation of the tractor-trailer.  There may be additional defendants responsible for the hiring and retention of the tractor-trailer driver.  At HoeyLegal, our investigators will promptly identify the responsible defendants and immediately request the preservation of all evidence related to the hiring and retention of the driver, inspection of the vehicles and the supervision and drug/alcohol testing of the vehicle operator.


Our accident investigators include mechanics who will immediately respond to the accident site and the location where the truck has been impounded in order to photograph the truck and conduct necessary mechanical inspections of the vehicle. In the event that a court order is necessary to examine and inspect the trucks, HoeyLegal Attorneys will promptly file the necessary motions to enable the HoeyLegal mechanics and inspectors to conduct a prompt evaluation of the mechanical function of the at-fault tractor-trailer


Our expert accident investigators include former Pennsylvania State Police accident investigators and nationally recognized engineers who will carefully photograph the accident scene and conduct all necessary measurements of skid marks, yaw marks, displacement of debris and thoroughly examine the accident site to preserve all evidence for the time of trial.


Our investigators will promptly interview and record all witnesses that observed the accident and collect all biographical information from the witnesses so they will available to testify on your behalf at trial.

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