February 12, 2014

Southwestern Pennsylvania was covered in snow on Feb. 9. All day long flakes fell onto the trees, the rooftops and the roads in the area. WTRF-TV reported that David Cubbison, the Bedford County Director of Emergency Services, said that the snow was a factor in a large number of motor vehicle accidents that day.

One of these accidents involved a tour bus that was traveling on Route 220. At approximately 2:20 in the afternoon the bus careened out of control and crashed into an embankment just five miles shy of the Maryland border. The report wasn’t clear about how the determination was made, but police said that the driver had been going too fast at the time of the collision.

The driver was the one that operated the vehicle, but there was an entire group of passengers on the bus as well. At least 20 of these individuals suffered some level of injury as they were thrown about in the collision. A total of 15 patients were brought to Western Maryland Health Systems and another 10 were taken to UPMC Bedford. Some were expected to be treated and released.

Does thick snowfall or an icy roadway give a driver an absolute excuse from liability after a commercial vehicle accident? The answer is absolutely not. Drivers have a duty to act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances.

Snowfall may make roads a little more slippery, but that means that a driver may need to slow down — even below the posted speed limit — in order to drive as a reasonable person would on that same road. When a driver’s actions fall below this reasonable standard of care and cause injury to another, the driver can be held liable for those damages.

Source: WTRF-TV, “Bus crash on snowy Pa. road injures more than 20,” Feb. 9, 2014