Someday, residents of Illinois will be able to tell their children and grandchildren about the bitter cold snap that enveloped the state during the opening days of 2014. But until then, they’ll have to wait it out – and stay off the roads if possible.
Here are some of the figures: a temperature of 16 degrees below zero at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, breaking a record first set back in 1894 (and tied in 1988). Astonishingly, that was two degrees colder than a temperature reading recorded about the same time at the South Pole. With the strong winds, the wind chill readings ranged between -40 and -50 degrees across much of the state.
These conditions can cause skin to freeze within minutes and lead to other health risks. But when the frigid temperatures are combined with the recent heavy snowfall in Illinois, it results in extremely hazardous conditions on the state’s roads. Officials have closed sections of interstates because they are impassable due to the snow and ice accumulation. And where roads are still open, the high winds and blowing snow are reducing visibility to dangerously low levels.
Obviously, these conditions form a recipe for auto accidents. It’s important to note that these victims of these accidents not only face potential injuries from the impact of the collisions, but also from frostbite, hypothermia, and other conditions that are related to being stranded outside on the roadway for long periods of time.
Authorities are advising people to stay off the roads if at all possible. That’s good advice: not only does keep people from causing auto accidents, but also relieves them from the burden of being named as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death lawsuit filed by the victims and their relatives. Also, medical care expenses are likely to be higher given the cold conditions; meaning that any damages awarded as part of these lawsuits would likely be higher than those collisions that occurred in good weather.