How Does Weather Impact Liability in Car Accident Cases?
Inclement weather can contribute to car accidents. Slippery roads, heavy snowfall, black ice, fog, and other weather events can make it difficult for even the most experienced driver to maintain control of his or her vehicle. According to the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, approximately 1.2 million inclement weather-related car accidents happen yearly. Approximately 16% of weather-related crashes result in fatalities.How Do I Go About Pursuing Compensation in a Bad Weather Car Accident?
If you have been injured in a weather-related accident, you may wonder how to pursue compensation for your damages. Insurance companies may consider weather and road conditions when deciding whether to pay a claim and how much they will pay. Determining who is at fault in a car accident caused by bad weather is essential in recovering the compensation you need and deserve.How Do Insurance Companies and Courts Define Who is at Fault?
Drivers are responsible for taking appropriate precautions when they operate a motor vehicle in bad weather. However, a car accident can happen to many different types of drivers, regardless of how careful they are while driving in bad weather. When bad driving conditions are involved, insurance companies should review all circumstances, including bad roads, inclement weather, and traffic signals. For example, suppose your vehicle slides through an intersection or collides with another vehicle. In that case, the car insurance company must determine whether the bad weather or the road caused the car accident, not your driving error.
Determining fault is one of the most important aspects of pursuing an insurance settlement or damage payment. For example, a 50-50 fault decision might be made if two vehicles collide due to the fault of both drivers. In this instance, the drivers share the fault of the accident. It may be different if the insurance company or court decides that the driver was going too fast for the conditions. In this case, the driver may be held responsible for a larger portion of the total damages. In the case of a personal injury lawsuit, the circumstances of the accidents will greatly affect the court’s decision.What Happens After Fault Has Been Established
If you have been determined to be at fault for a road accident because of inclement weather by the insurance company, you have the right to appeal the decision. Bad road conditions usually cannot be your only reason for the appeal. The decision will likely stand unless you can prove that the other driver was at fault.The Benefits of Discussing Your Case With a Skilled Attorney
Discussing your weather-related car accident with an attorney can help you protect your right to compensation. An attorney will be able to investigate the circumstances of your accident to determine whether:
- The driver was exceeding the speed a reasonable person would drive at in the same or similar weather conditions
- The driver was observing a safe distance from other vehicles
- The weather event was unexpected and not an anticipated occurrence
- The driver could have done something to avoid the accident
If there were actions that the driver could have taken to avoid the accident, the driver could have been held liable. This legal principle applies to instances that leave the driver no way to avoid the accident. For example, suppose the vehicle is unexpectedly forced to swerve into oncoming traffic by a sudden tornado or flash flood. In that case, the driver may not be liable for the accident since the driver could not have done anything to avoid it.
If hazardous road conditions contributed to the accident, the entity or organization in charge of roadway maintenance might also be partially at fault. For example, if damaged roads, debris, uneven shoulders, and defective potholes also contributed to the accident, the responsible municipality may be fully or partially liable.Were You Injured in a Weather-Related Accident? if So, We Can Help
If you were injured in a weather-related accident, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and other damages. However, you must provide evidence that another party or driver acted negligently under the circumstances.
An attorney can investigate your case and gather evidence proving that the other party was at fault. These circumstances may include speeding, limited visibility, or failure to ensure your tires and brakes are safe. The attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, are prepared to help you understand your legal rights options. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more.