Snow and Ice Accumulation Create Dangers on Massachusetts Roadways

New England is no stranger to severe winters that bring several feet of snow in one storm. For many Massachusetts residents, this poses serious problems when it comes to handling our daily chores and getting to work on time. As the snow piles up on the roadways and is removed to the roadside, it can narrow the number of lanes available for travel, making it hard to see roadway obstructions, pedestrians, and traffic signals and signs.

It also wreaks havoc on the roadways, leading to a rise in motor vehicle accidents during the storm season and winter months. Although some dangers cannot be avoided on the road during this particularly challenging time of year, there is one simple thing motorists can do to help minimize the risk of accidents:  clean the snow and ice off windshields, sideview mirrors, and windows.

In the past, Massachusetts legislators have made several attempts to pass legislation prohibiting motorists from operating their vehicles with an excess accumulation of ice and snow, but the bills have all failed in the legislature, mostly due to their inclusion of commercial vehicles. Despite this, a driver operating his or her vehicle without first removing snow and ice accumulation can be fined under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 90 Section 13, which states: “No person, when operating a motor vehicle, shall permit to be on or in the vehicle or on or about his person anything which may interfere with or impede the proper operation of the vehicle or any equipment by which the vehicle is operated or controlled.”

Although the citation does not impose criminal penalties, a driver can receive a fine of at least $50 for the first offense and increasing fines for repeated offenses. If the accumulation of ice and snow leads to a motor vehicle accident, however, the driver may be liable for civil damages. A car collision is a type of personal injury case, which requires a plaintiff to prove that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care, failed to act according to that duty, directly caused the accident as a result, and forced the plaintiff to sustain damages.

The duty of care that applies to motor vehicle accidents requires each of us to operate our vehicles with the same ordinary care and skill that a reasonably prudent person would use in a similar situation. When a vehicle’s windshield, sideview mirrors, or windows are blocked with ice and snow, a reasonably prudent driver would probably not operate the vehicle without removing enough ice and snow to ensure that the driver had complete visibility. A plaintiff may recover a wide variety of damages in a motor vehicle accident case involving a failure to remove snow and ice accumulation, including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to another driver’s failure to operate his or her vehicle safely during inclement weather conditions, you may be entitled to compensation. The dedicated car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of John S. Moffa have represented many victims throughout Massachusetts and are ready to help you vigorously assert your rights. Call us now at 1-800-446-4485 or contact us online to set up a free consultation today.

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