Black ice, a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface, often looks like a wet patch on the road or sidewalk but is a slippery layer of ice. It’s called “black” ice because it blends into the road or pavement, making it almost invisible to drivers and pedestrians. This ice forms when the temperature drops and dampness on surfaces freezes. It’s common in early winter and late fall, especially during early mornings or when temperatures are lowest. Understanding black ice is important because it causes many accidents. People walking or driving don’t see it, leading to slips and falls or car crashes. Injuries caused by black ice can result in serious injuries. Knowing where and when black ice forms helps people be more careful during cold weather. This awareness is key in preventing accidents and understanding who is responsible if someone gets hurt because of black ice.

Responsibility of Property Owners

Owners of properties, like store owners or homeowners, are responsible for keeping their places safe. This means they must take care of their sidewalks and parking lots, especially when it’s cold and icy. When black ice forms on their property, they should act quickly to make it safe. They can do this by putting salt or sand on the ice to melt it or make it less slippery. If a property owner knows there’s black ice and doesn’t do anything about it, and someone gets hurt because of the ice, the owner might be responsible for the injuries. It’s their job to regularly check their property and ensure it’s safe for people to walk or drive on.

This doesn’t mean they are always responsible if someone gets hurt because of black ice on their property. If the ice formed suddenly and they didn’t know about it, or if they were in the process of removing it, they might not be held responsible. It’s about whether they did anything to keep their property safe.

Liability of Government Entities

When black ice causes injuries, many people wonder if the government is responsible. Cities and towns are supposed to keep public roads and sidewalks safe. This includes preventing black ice when they know there’s a chance it could form. For example, if the weather forecast says it will be very cold, the government should be ready to treat the streets and sidewalks with salt or sand to stop the ice from forming.

If someone gets hurt because the government didn’t properly care for the roads or sidewalks, the government might be liable. This means they might have to pay for the injuries. But it can be complicated. If the ice appeared suddenly and the government didn’t have enough time to respond, or if they were already working on fixing the problem, they might not be at fault. The key is whether the government knew about the risk of black ice and had a fair chance to fix it.

Contributory Negligence of the Injured Party

Sometimes, when people get hurt because of black ice, they might have played a part in their own injuries. This is called “contributory negligence.” It means that if a person wasn’t being careful enough, like if they were running on an icy sidewalk or driving too fast for the conditions, they might be partly to blame for their injuries. Even if the property owner or the government should have taken care of the ice, the person who got hurt also must be careful. If they knew there was a chance of black ice and didn’t take care, like by wearing proper shoes or driving slowly, their responsibility for the accident is considered. In many places, if the injured person is found to be contributory negligent, they might get less money for their injuries or even none at all.

Insurance Coverage for Black Ice Accidents

Insurance can play a big role after an accident caused by black ice. People who get hurt might file a claim with their insurance or the property owner’s or government’s insurance. Insurance companies look at what happened and decide who is responsible and how much they will pay for the injuries and damages. They check if the property owner or the government did what they should have to prevent the accident. They also look at whether the injured person was being careful. Insurance policies have specific rules about what they cover. For example, car insurance might cover accidents caused by black ice, but only if the driver had the right coverage. Everyone needs to understand their insurance policy and what it covers in case of accidents like these.

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JACK V. CORRADINO, ROBERT C. PAPA, JR., JOSEPH A. DEFURIA, TIMOTHY J. FONSECA, AND FRANCIS J. SWEENEY III ARE ALL CERTIFIED BY THE SUPREME COURT AS CIVIL TRIAL ATTORNEYS. Corradino & Papa, LLC is located in Clifton, NJ and serves clients in and around Newark, Irvington, Harrison, East Orange, Orange, Belleville, Hillside, Maplewood, South Orange, Kearny, West Orange, Elizabeth, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, North Arlington, Vauxhall, Union, Montclair, Millburn, Lyndhurst, Nutley, Bergen County, Essex County, Hudson County and Union County. See All Locations Attorney Advertising. This website is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision. The information you obtain in this website is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney for individual advice regarding your situation. Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances. No aspect of this advertising has been approved by the supreme court. Here are the criteria for the various awards we’ve won: Disclaimer : Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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