Rhode Island Personal Injury Lawyer
by Slepkow Law

When we think of pedestrian accidents in winter weather, we typically think of slipping and falling on snow and ice. Don’t forget about pedestrian accidents involving motorists too. Motorists need to take extra care and caution during winter weather. Shorter days, darkness, decreased visibility and snow storms increase the likelihood of a car, truck or SUV accident with a pedestrian.

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Slip fall RI

Slip and fall

These accidents can happen outside or inside of a business or home. We usually think of slip and falls occurring in parking lots or on sidewalks, but the elements are often blown in or tracked in. Slip and falls in RI happen everywhere. Snowflakes outside turn into water inside, particularly around commercial interior entrances where heavy customer traffic brings the winter weather in with it. Owners of commercial property must use due care and caution for the safety of their customers.

Motor vehicles and pedestrians

The primary factor that distinguishes motor vehicles collisions with pedestrians and slip and fall cases is visibility. When visibility is an issue, the ordinary operation of a motor vehicle is influenced by winter elements. “White out” conditions with high winds and blowing snow operate to magnify the visibility issue. When put into the equation with significantly increased stopping distances created by snow and ice, lack of visibility can make winter driving much more dangerous for both motorists and pedestrians.

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The law of negligence

Whether it’s a slip and fall on snow and ice or a motor vehicle accident with a pedestrian, a determination of fault has to be made. In these types of cases, fault is determined by the law of negligence. If a person fails to use due care and caution for the safety of others, they can be held negligent and liable for damages. In order to prove negligence, you’re required to show:
• A duty
• A breach of that duty
• That the breach of duty caused the accident and injuries
• Damages

If a person claiming negligence and injury can’t prove each and every one of those elements, their case is going to fail in its entirety. They might also be held to be comparatively negligent where the percentage of the negligence attributable to him or her is deducted from the full value of their settlement or award.

Complicated litigation strategies

Negligence cases involve complicated litigation strategies. Only a knowledgeable and experienced Rhode Island personal injury lawyer can competently litigate these cases. Contact our RI law office for a free consultation and case evaluation.

The Union leader reported: “HAMPSTEAD — Police say they have no plans to bring charges against a Derry teen whose Jeep struck and killed a woman when she got out of her car to make a call after sliding off Stage Road in a snowstorm Tuesday night. There was certainly no criminal intent. It was an accident,” police Lt. John Frazier said. Lori Dawe, 31, of Derry, died at the scene of the accident near the intersection of Stage and Cambridge roads. Frazier said the accident happened on a section of roadway that’s often a trouble spot during winter weather conditions.” Union Leader 

According to police, Dawe was driving a 2009 Chevy Cobalt southbound on Stage Road in the area approaching the intersection of Cambridge Road Tuesday night when her car slid on the ice- and snow-covered road.

Pedestrian accidents during winter weather and snowstorms are a significant concern, as these conditions can reduce visibility, create slippery surfaces, and make it more challenging for both pedestrians and drivers to navigate safely. Here are some key factors and safety tips to consider:

  1. Reduced Visibility:
    • Snowfall, especially heavy snowstorms, can significantly reduce visibility for both pedestrians and drivers. Snow can obscure the view of traffic signs, road markings, and even other pedestrians.
  2. Slippery Surfaces:
    • Accumulated snow and ice on sidewalks and roadways create slippery conditions. Pedestrians are at risk of slipping and falling, potentially leading to injury.
  3. Limited Daylight:
    • Winter months often bring shorter daylight hours, which can reduce visibility during the early morning and evening, increasing the risk of accidents.
  4. Driver Visibility:
    • Snow accumulation on vehicles can obstruct driver visibility. Drivers may have a harder time seeing pedestrians in snowy conditions.

Safety Tips for Pedestrians:

  1. Wear Appropriate Clothing: Dress warmly and in bright, reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to drivers.
  2. Use Sidewalks and Crosswalks: Stick to sidewalks and designated crosswalks whenever possible. Avoid walking in the street, especially in heavy snow.
  3. Walk Cautiously: Take smaller steps and walk with shorter strides to maintain balance on slippery surfaces.
  4. Be Visible: Carry a flashlight or wear reflective gear if walking in low-visibility conditions. Make yourself easily seen by drivers.
  5. Look and Listen: Be vigilant, look in all directions before crossing streets, and listen for oncoming traffic, as sound can be an important cue in low-visibility conditions.
  6. Avoid Distractions: Stay off your phone and avoid distractions while walking. This will help you stay aware of your surroundings and potential hazards.

Safety Tips for Drivers:

  1. Slow Down: Reduce your driving speed in snowy and icy conditions to give yourself more time to react to unexpected situations.
  2. Increase Following Distance: Maintain a larger following distance between your vehicle and pedestrians. This will allow more time to stop safely.
  3. Clean Your Vehicle: Remove all snow and ice from your vehicle, including windows, lights, and the roof. This will improve visibility and prevent snow from blowing onto the road.
  4. Use Headlights: Keep your headlights on, even during the day, to increase your vehicle’s visibility to pedestrians and other drivers.
  5. Be Alert: Pay close attention to your surroundings and be prepared for pedestrians, especially in areas with high foot traffic.
  6. Avoid Distractions: Put away your phone and minimize distractions while driving in winter conditions.

Pedestrian accidents in winter weather and snowstorms can be reduced with awareness, caution, and adherence to safety guidelines by both pedestrians and drivers. Remember that safety is a shared responsibility, and being prepared for winter weather is essential for everyone’s well-being.

Per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.

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