Car Accidents and Poor Weather: How to Prove Liability
Car accidents happen every day across the country for various reasons. In many cases, weather conditions contribute to car accidents. The poor weather conditions during an accident can make proving fault more difficult.
When you are the victim of an accident and the other driver claims the weather is to blame, you may think you do not have a legal right to proper compensation for your losses. Your losses can include the damage to or loss of your vehicle and your medical expenses.
However, with proper legal representation and investigation, you can often pursue a legal claim for personal injury, even when the weather is partially to blame. Discover what you need to know.
Liability and Duty of Care
Anyone who gets behind the wheel must exercise a reasonable duty of care. Duty of care means the driver acts as a reasonably prudent driver would under the same or similar circumstances, including ensuring they can safely operate their vehicle in the weather conditions they chose to drive in, that their vehicle is properly equipped for the existing weather conditions and taking necessary extra precautions for the weather conditions, including allowing additional following distance and/or driving at reduced speed.
When a driver chooses to drive a vehicle in poor weather conditions, they assume a duty of care to ensure the vehicle makes it safely from one point to the next. When a driver drives in rainy weather conditions, they must exercise the duty of care to use windshield wipers, drive below the speed limit, allow additional stopping distance and/or use headlights.
The duty of care is not met merely by the driver practicing safe driving techniques. A driver must also only drive in a safe, road-ready vehicle that can withstand the weather conditions. If a driver operates a vehicle with tires in poor condition, with worn brakes or with a broken windshield, they could be liable for an accident if either of those elements caused or contributed to an accident.
For instance, bad tires mean a car is more likely to hydroplane on wet roadways, or lose traction in snow and ice. The vehicle is also more likely to suffer a blown-out tire, which can result in an accident with many other cars. Deficient brakes can render a vehicle unable to stop quickly for traffic conditions.
If a car does not have a properly functioning windshield, the driver cannot adequately see the road and other cars. When weather conditions are poor, visibility is already decreased. A broken windshield only makes the likelihood of an accident higher.
When a driver does not exercise reasonable care when driving in poor weather, they can be liable for the resulting accident. If you can prove the other driver did not exercise reasonable care – and thus did not live up to the duty of care owed to other drivers – while driving in bad weather, you stand a good chance of winning a personal injury case and can receive compensation for your losses.
Negligence and Proof
When you believe the other driver didn’t exercise proper duty of care, you may assume you have an open and shut personal injury case. Unfortunately, cases like these are not that simple. The other driver’s insurance provider will likely want to blame the accident on external factors only, essentially stating the accident was wholly caused by the adverse weather conditions.
The insurance provider may also want to hold you partially liable for the accident, depending on the facts of the case. For instance, if you followed too closely and the other driver suddenly hydroplaned and hit your vehicle, the insurance company may deny your claim due to your own lack of care.
The bottom line is you need a good personal injury attorney on your side when you are in an accident involving adverse weather conditions, especially if you are not to blame. The facts of the case can be difficult to manage without the proper expertise needed for a proper investigation.
Ultimately, your attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence to prove your losses and help you have a successful outcome.
For further assistance on your car accident personal injury case, please contact Carter & Fulton, P.S.