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driving in the rain

Can Weather Impact Liability in Car Accidents?

Be it rain, fog, cold, or snow, motorists have a responsibility to adjust to adverse road conditions accordingly. Not doing this could be considered negligent driving and also increases the risk of car collisions and injuries.

A common misconception is that an accident may have been solely caused by external factors, such as bad weather. The reality is most drivers successfully take steps to minimize or avoid the risk of an accident during bad weather situations while others do not. Here is how weather may impact liability in the event of a car crash.

Weather ConditionsBriggle & Polan Image of Car Accident on a Rain Day

When weather conditions are normal and there are no visibility issues, low traffic, and a clear road, driving the speed limit would be considered reasonable. This changes when driving during inclement weather. What may have been considered reasonable driving behavior during good weather is different during bad weather.

When snow, ice, sleet, or downpours of rain and more are added to the mix, the situation affects a driver’s reaction time, visibility, and control of the vehicle. It is reasonable to expect a driver to adjust their driving to weather conditions.

Determining Negligence

In any accident that occurs during serious weather, it is important to determine if any negligence was involved. It will need to be established if a driver failed to act with a reasonable amount of caution or if their behavior illustrated negligence.

The standards of care could be different when accidents occur during bad weather. There is a requirement to drive a vehicle according to those standards. What a reasonable person would do when driving during similar weather circumstances is a standard that does not necessarily change.

The Impact of Weather on Accidents

In a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 21 percent of all vehicle crashes are weather-related, resulting in 1,235,145 crashes and 418,005 people injured. A majority of these accidents occur on wet pavement (70%) or during rainfall (46%).

Considering these numbers, it is clear that driving during bad weather is a serious hazard. Drivers need to be aware of the risks associated with driving in bad weather and must take extra precautions.

Circumstances

The U.S. Department of Transportation has identified how weather can impact the occurrence of accidents:

  • Obstruction of a lane
  • Distance visibility issues
  • Pavement friction

Factors

In addition, there are many different factors that could influence fault for traffic accidents that are weather-related:

  • Fatigued driving
  • Driving a vehicle too fast for conditions
  • Driving while impaired
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Driving while distracted
  • Failure to use headlights
  • Improperly maintaining a vehicle like tires and more
  • Not using windshield wipers as necessary for conditions

All drivers need to be aware of driving conditions. They are expected to adjust their driving to the weather and road conditions.

If you or a loved was injured in an accident that was a result of bad weather or if you were hit by a negligent driver, don’t hesitate to contact Briggle & Polan. An Austin personal injury attorney at our firm can help determine responsibility for the accident and how best to proceed with your case.

Contact our firm at (512) 400-3278 to schedule a free consultation.

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