Black ice is a term used to describe a transparent coating of ice, found especially on a road or other paved surface. A snow expert knows that slip and fall cases brought against establishments can become especially complicated with the presence of black ice on the premises of the incident. However, it can often be the key component to the defense’s case disproving liability. Black ice is, by nature, nearly unobservable. This raises question as to the victim’s ability to identify the cause or exact location of the accident. It also makes it difficult to hold an establishment accountable for the removal of something, the presence of which they simply were not aware. Business properties are often marked by notices of potentially dangerous conditions, without which they become vulnerable to slip-and-fall civil suits. A lack of these markings surrounding areas affected by black ice can be proof of the company’s unawareness and inability to warn its patrons.
Consistency and confidence in the plaintiff’s description of the location of the accident and its condition at the time are crucial to the success of his case. The physical characteristics of the ice itself going as far as to include the physical dimensions and exact location will be important details for the plaintiff to include. The presence of black ice makes this information very difficult to provide and, more importantly, difficult to foresee and take preventative measures against such an accident occurring.
In the case that the plaintiff is unable to provide clear identification of the cause of the accident, his case may be significantly weakened. The plaintiff and his attorney may then turn to attempting to establish proof of notice based on the existence of certain conditions that were present at the time of the incident. Fortunately for the defendant, this is many times hard to prove and is often a “hail-mary” approach to a case win. Testimony from a meteorology expert witness could be required to present data that may prove the conditions were exactly right for the formation of black ice. Evidence in support of inclement weather conditions before and after the accident or eye-witness testimony may also be presented. Consulting a snow expert witness to provide testimony supporting the existence of black ice may very well be the key to success in the defendant’s case.
A plaintiff’s goal is often to avoid the term “black ice” at all cost as it can completely discredit their case against the defendant. In the case that black ice is presented, although proof of notice of conditions may still support their claims, this is often an unsuccessful last resort against the defense. To evaluate the legitimacy of a plaintiff’s claim in relation to the presence of black ice, consult a snow expert witness.