For most of us, the idea of winter conjures up idyllic visions of building snowmen with our children, ice skating, or hitting the slopes for an invigorating day of skiing or snowboarding. For others, winter means rushing through traffic to gather our holiday groceries and gifts. In any event, we don’t envision painful broken bones, ligament tears, and car accidents when we think of winter. Unfortunately, along with the festive seasonal activities, winter sports, and holiday travel comes inclement winter weather and an increased risk for injury.
So, what precautions can you take to help avoid injury this winter? In the event you are involved in a weather-related car accident or sustain a winter sports-related injury, what should you do? Read on for helpful tips about preventing winter injuries, and what to do in the event you are injured.
Car Accidents Caused by Winter Weather
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 21% of annual vehicle crashes are weather-related, meaning they occur in adverse weather or on slick pavement. DOT statistics also show an average of 16% of crash fatalities are weather-related. Common weather-related conditions that increase the risk of car accidents include: wet or icy pavement, rain, snow, sleet, and fog.
Drivers are expected to exercise appropriate caution when driving in adverse weather conditions. Weather may contribute to the cause of a collision, but drivers can still be held liable if they lose control of their vehicle and cause an accident.
Tips to Avoid Weather-Related Car Accidents This Winter:
- Do not drive if the weather or road conditions are extremely hazardous.
- Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained before winter weather begins.
- Check weather & traffic reports before you drive and allow extra travel time.
- Avoid risky driving by minimizing distractions, driving slower, & always driving sober.
- Carry snow chains, a flashlight, and a safety vest in your vehicle.
- Stock your vehicle with extra supplies including food, water, clothing, and blankets.
- Learn safe winter driving techniques to avoid hydroplaning.
If You Are Involved In a Motor Vehicle Accident This Winter:
- Call 911 immediately if anyone is injured in the accident.
- Obtain a police report whether or not there are injuries.
- Stay with your vehicle while you wait for help.
- Take photos to document property damage and injuries, as safety permits.
- Photograph important documents such as drivers’ licenses and insurance cards.
- Obtain contact information of all parties involved, including witnesses.
- Don’t admit fault or offer too much information at the scene.
- Seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible after the accident.
- Contact a car accident attorney for consultation after the accident.
Winter Recreational Accidents
For many people, the arrival of winter weather ushers in the opportunity to engage in beloved winter activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and ice skating. Unfortunately, these cherished winter sports are also associated with an increased risk of bodily injury. According to the Mayo Clinic, common winter orthopedic injuries include: torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs), torn meniscus injuries, and wrist fractures.
While it is always a good idea to proactively protect yourself from injury, keep in mind that a property owner may be held liable if they are negligent in maintaining a safe environment for their patrons. For example, a resort could be held liable for failing to properly maintain their facility or equipment, or by failing to properly train their employees. A third-party may also be held liable, such as a manufacturer of faulty sports equipment, if an equipment failure contributes to your injury. If you are injured during a winter recreational activity, be sure to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for advice and a review of your potential case.
Tips to Help Prevent Winter Sports-Related Injuries:
- Wear appropriate protective gear such as goggles, helmets, and gloves.
- Obtain proper instruction before engaging in any new sport.
- Follow all safety rules at the resort or recreational facility.
- Use the buddy system when engaging in winter sports; never go it alone.
- Stretch your muscles for several minutes before and after exercising.
- Know your ability level and take breaks to prevent fatigue and injury.
- Eat a nutritious diet and carry protein/energy bars with you.
- Stay hydrated while exercising, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Practice strength-training and weight-bearing exercise throughout the year.
- Avoid alcohol or drug use while engaging in winter sports.
If You Are Injured In a Winter Recreational Accident:
- Call 911 or local ski patrol in the event of an emergency.
- Wait for help from emergency services; don’t attempt to move an injured person.
- Don’t remove the injured party’s skis or snowboard.
- Remain with the injured person until help arrives if you witness an accident
- Take photos to document the accident and injuries, as safety permits.
- Alert others of the accident — position someone on the slope above to warn others.
- Seek medical evaluation immediately after an injury, even if it does not seem serious.
Accidents At Someone Else’s Home or Business
The risk of slip and fall accidents increases dramatically during winter, due to wet and icy conditions. Slip and fall incidents account for over 1 million emergency room visits annually, according to the National Floor Safety Institute. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 20,460 work injuries involved ice, sleet, or snow that resulted in at least one day away from work in 2017.
Winter weather can contribute to the incidence of slip and fall accidents in a variety of scenarios, such as a property owner neglecting to shovel snow to create a safe walkway, or store management failing to post signage warning patrons of wet entryway floors during a rainstorm.
In general, a property or business owner has a duty of care to take reasonable steps to maintain a safe environment for their visitors or patrons. In the winter, this means clearing public spaces on their property of the accumulation of snow and/or ice in a reasonable timeframe. However, visitors and patrons are also expected to exercise appropriate caution, remaining alert for potentially dangerous conditions and taking reasonable steps to avoid injury. If you sustain a weather-related injury while on another’s property this winter, contact an experienced slip and fall attorney to arrange for a consultation.
Tips to Prevent Winter Accidents at Homes and Businesses:
- Proceed with caution, remaining alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Keep your hands free by refraining from cell phone use or carrying large loads.
- Wear appropriate footwear designed for use in winter conditions.
- Take short, slow steps when walking.
- Use handrails whenever possible.
- Step down from a vehicle or curb, rather than out.
- Remain on designated pathways; do not take shortcuts.
If You Are Injured at Someone Else’s Home or Business This Winter:
- Take pictures/video to document the scene and WHAT CAUSED YOU TO FALL, as conditions can change rapidly.
- Gather contact information of any willing witnesses.
- Report your injury & fill out an accident report at the scene.
- Be careful not to admit fault or offer too much information.
- Seek immediate medical attention after the accident to document your injuries.
- Write a detailed account of the accident as soon as possible.
- Save the clothes & shoes you were wearing at the time of the accident.
- Consult an experienced personal injury attorney to review your potential case.
A CZ Law Attorney Can Help With Your Winter Injury Case!
If you were injured in a winter weather-related incident, be it a car accident, recreational accident, or a slip and fall incident on another’s property, our team of experienced personal injury attorneys at Carpenter & Zuckerman are here to help!
Founded in 1995, CZ Law is one of California’s largest personal injury law firms. We have litigated numerous cases, recovering over $2 billion dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients. Our firm proudly serves clients throughout California and other states, maintaining offices in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Garden Grove, Irvine, San Diego, Bakersfield, and Las Vegas.
Don’t be left out in the cold! Contact us today at the phone number listed below, or fill out our contact form to arrange for a FREE consultation!