Driving in the winter naturally expands the number of hazards on the road. Snow and ice are trouble enough on their own, but the cold and bitter months can also bring problems when trees crack, fall, and cause major accidents. If you have been in an accident that involves a falling tree or branch, then there are many parties that could be at fault. By breaking down the different factors and working with an auto accident lawyer, you can determine if there is a possible case for your accident and injuries.
When a tree or branch creates a road hazard, it's important to factor in where the tree came from. If the tree is planted on someone's personal property, then the home owner may be liable for the car accident. Through an investigation with your attorney, they will determine the health of the trees, how much it hung over the road, and what factors caused interference in the car accident.
For example, if the tree was completely healthy and a blizzard knocked branches down, then it may be harder to have a case. If the tree hung over the road and was in poor health, then the property owner may be liable for the car accident. A history of landscaping and other potential road hazards may become part of the case's evidence. Tests will be completed to determine the health of the tree and how long it has been dead or dying for.
Tree Ripple Effects
Sometimes a tree that overhangs the road may create a domino effect that caused your accident. For example, if a large branch hangs over a power line, it may hit the line and slam into your vehicle, causing the accident. This ripple effect could have been prevented if the tree was properly trimmed or pruned. When an accident like this occurs, an attorney will investigate the responsibility of the tree care. Various parties that may be included on the settlement case are power line companies, state governments, city road crews, and the property owners of the tree.
Just because you are involved in the accident alone doesn't mean you are at fault. A number of times, accidents involving falling trees are completely preventable. You deserve compensation for your injuries and damages.
Road Signs & Warnings
In certain cases, tree and branch removal may not be available until the spring. In these cases, warning signs should be put up to alert drivers of potential problems. If you passed any warning signs before the accident, then it may be harder to move forward with the case. If the state or city road crews were aware of the problem and didn't put up signs, then your case may be stronger. An attorney can look into documents focused on road repair and tree trimming. By establishing a history of potential tree problems, your case and innocence can be proven.
Branches on the Road
A majority of accidents occur when branches fall as you're driving under them. In some cases, a branch may have fallen at an earlier point and created a road hazard. In the winter, these branches are harder to avoid and swerve away from, especially when snow or ice is on the road.
If this branch was on the road for an extended period of time, then there may responsible parties who should have removed the branch. Before your accident occurred, there may have been reports of the fallen branch. An attorney can investigate whether there were any emergency calls or calls reported to town and state resources. If the branch was ignored or not moved quick enough, these agencies may be held liable for your accident. The same can apply to a home owner that ignored fallen branches from a tree on their property.
Cases like these take time to develop and build a case. Work and communicate with an attorney from a firm like Gibbs and Parnell to move forward and start the first steps of your potential settlement.