Who Is Liable in a Snow Plow Accident?

Who Is Liable in a Snow Plow Accident?While our state of Oklahoma isn’t exactly the snow capital of the world, it does get cold in the winter, and occasionally snow falls and makes our roads a terror to drive on. Not only is it slick, but the rarely-seen snow plows make an appearance. Not just the ones sent out by the city, but also the plows that some people put on the front of their vehicles in an effort to help clear their local roads and driveways.

While it’s important to get the roads clear so that people can drive without fear of sliding into oncoming traffic or into a ditch, these plows in themselves can be dangerous. They can send chunks of heavy snow and ice into other cars, crash into surrounding vehicles or pedestrians, or damage electrical equipment that may present a hazard for other cars and people passing by. If your property is ever damaged or you are injured by a snow plow, then you need to contact your Oklahoma City car accident attorney. These cases can be complicated, as some cities and states have protections for their road workers, which sometimes includes snow plows.

Why are snow plows dangerous?

We aren’t here to bash snow plows. They clear the roads so that people can get to work, kids can get to school, and everyone gets to where they need to be in a timely and safe manner. It is important to know the inherent risks of having an increased number of large and heavy vehicles on the road that are essentially giant bulldozers (of snow).

Progressive Insurance provided some reasons why snow plows are dangerous:

  • Low visibility. Snow plow drivers have the responsibility of heading out in extreme weather conditions where snow is sometimes coming down fast and heavy. This sort of weather makes visibility difficult, not just being able to see cars or people around them, but being able to see the markings on the road. Signs are sometimes plastered with snow as well, covering whatever messages they have on them.
  • Fatigued and distracted drivers. Snow plow drivers are invaluable during these times when the snow does move in on our city. They go out in terrible weather conditions at odd hours of the night and early morning, and work late shifts. Most drivers do an incredible job of performing their tasks with little to no issues. It’s important work. But they are out in the cold, they are tired, and they are under extreme stress due to the severe weather conditions they are working in.
  • Large, heavy truck. According to Progressive, “snow plows weigh four times more than the average car, and a collision with one can be deadly.” While Oklahoma does not differentiate collisions with snow plows from other traffic or truck accidents, some states do. “The Iowa Department of Transportation, for example, says an average of 46 accidents each winter involve a snowplow. The department has paid more than $1.2 million to repair other vehicles and settle claims for injuries caused by these accidents.”

This is speaking mostly of city workers or snow plow company workers who generally use the large trucks meant for plowing that we see on the road. Sometimes, people think they can plow the snow on their streets with their own car or vehicle if they simply put a plow on the front of it. While this can be true for some vehicles to plow their driveway (not streets), any average passenger vehicle is not suited for carrying the weight of a plow for the same distances that other certified plows can, and it can cause the transmission of the vehicle to overheat quickly. Not only that, but most states require the driver of any sort of snow plow to have a commercial driver’s license. Plowing snow is not an easy job, nor is it a job that should be taken lightly.

Who is liable in an accident with a snow plow?

If you are ever in an accident with a snow plow, and you are looking to be compensated for your damages and injuries, it may be confusing to figure out who to file your claim against. If it was a private citizen using a plow on their own vehicle, and not working for any company or city, then it would be that driver who would be liable for compensation as long as you (and your car accident attorney) can prove that the driver was being negligent while driving.

When it comes to municipal workers (those who work for the city, county, state), that is where it can become a bit more complicated. As Oklahoma is not the snowiest state, it does not have laws or ordinances concerning snow removal vehicles; however, if your property is damaged by a city worker, city truck, or agency, then you can file a notice of tort claim. In the end, if there are no special protections for the city worker, multiple parties can be held liable: the driver if they were driving negligently, the company the driver works for, the manufacturer of the truck, or others. It is important that the scene of the accident and the snow plow driver are investigated, and evidence is collected.

Like the winter weather itself, determining who is at fault in an accident with a snow plow can be messy and stressful. That is why if you are ever injured in a snow plow collision, then you should seek out an experienced and reliable car accident attorney. At Cunningham & Mears, we can help you wade through the complicated legal process, and ensure that all of the at-fault parties are held liable for your injuries. You do not need to suffer more than you already must for someone’s negligence. Let us help. To set up a consultation, call us or use our contact page. We proudly serve the people of Oklahoma City.