Visitor Question

Accident caused by patch of snow in middle of otherwise clear road?

Submitted By: Debbie (Wilmington, DE)

I was driving within the speed limit 3 days after a snowstorm, on a 2 lane road. The right lane I was in was completely cleared. Suddenly there was a patch of ice and snow in the middle of the road and I skidded on it and lost control of my car. Another car hit me from behind. It will probably be mixed liability, because she was driving fast and close to my car.

I have photos that show the road completely clear behind the accident, and the patch of snow in the middle of the road. The police sent me a citation for driving too fast for the weather conditions – but the storm was 3 days old, and I didn’t anticipate that one patch of the road would not be plowed.

Can I fight this in court? Is the road maintenance department at fault for not having plowed a stretch of road 3 days after the storm? Also, because I was given a citation, does that make me liable for the damage to the other driver’s car, even if she was driving recklessly? Thank you for any info.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Debbie,

Unfortunately, under Delaware Title 10, Chapter 40, Section 4001 – Tort Claims Act, you are likely barred from pursuing a property damage or personal injury claim against the State of Delaware, or any government agencies or employees within the State of Delaware.

The protection afforded government agencies and their employees is commonly referred to as Sovereign Immunity. This protects government agencies and their employees from civil claims and lawsuits when the employees are acting within the normal course of their employment duties, and no “gross negligence” is present. Only in certain circumstances is it possible to sue a government agency.

The issuance of a traffic citation is only circumstantial evidence of guilt. You will have every opportunity to enter a plea of not guilty and request a trial over the citation.

In criminal cases, whether a serious felony or a traffic citation, in the United States you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

To be culpable in a civil claim, the evidence against a personal must be proved “by a preponderance of the evidence.”

Civil claims can include property damage and personal injury claims, conflicts over money, restraining orders, and other non-criminal controversies.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: February 5, 2016

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