Can Weather Impact Liability in Colorado Car Crashes?
You’re planning a weekend on the slopes. You hop on Interstate 70, heading west and you hit that picturesque vista of year-round snow. The roads don’t look good. You have your foot on the brake the whole way down the mountain, but the snow is so heavy that even the plows can’t keep up.
You can hardly see through the blizzard. You keep your eyes on the road, but the lines disappear. A powerful gust of mountain wind sends your car into another lane. You’re fishtailing, desperately trying to get control of the wheels, but it’s too late. You slide into another car, sending both of you onto the shoulder. Once your car comes to a stop, you’re wondering whether you’re liable for the accident.
Who’s at Fault?
Colorado has been an “at fault” state since 2003. That means when Colorado insurance companies analyze a car accident, they decide which driver is most at fault. Even if one driver is 51% responsible for the crash, insurance agencies would consider them at fault.
Understanding liability is especially important because Colorado drivers cannot recover any compensation if they are more than 50% responsible for the crash. Even more important is that, by law, any compensation gained in Colorado is proportional to your responsibility for the crash. If you sue for $100,000 in damages, and the insurance companies decide you were 40% responsible, you will only receive $60,000.
Weather Liability According to the Law:
The state of Colorado considers it your responsibility to control your vehicle, regardless of the weather. Even in the worst whiteout conditions imaginable with gusts of 50mph wind, it is your responsibility to drive appropriately to the weather.
In the case of our example, the driver needed to slow down until he was safe to drive for the conditions, even if meant slowing to a crawl. If conditions were bad enough, the driver might need to pull over and pull the emergency brake.
If you’re unsure about your responsibility for a car crash and you’d like an experienced Denver attorney to evaluate your case, please give us a call at (303) 861-2800 or send us an email.