If you’ve ever driven when it’s pouring rain, foggy, or the road is covered in ice and snow, you know that certain weather conditions make driving more difficult. Of the six million motor vehicle accidents that occur in the United States every year, 22% are weather-related, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. When the weather is a contributing factor, determining liability in car accidents can be complicated and there are a lot of factors to consider.
Reactions to Extreme Weather Conditions
Weather is a big factor that impairs a driver’s ability to control their vehicle while on the road. The most typical types of extreme weather are rain, fog, wind, and snow, but even sunny driving conditions can cause glare and create visibility impairments.
Rain is the most dangerous type of weather to drive in. Your tires can lose contact with the wet pavement, causing you to hydroplane. Stopping distances, curves and turns, and visibility are also impaired.
Fog can severely limit how far a driver can see in front of their vehicle. This reduces the time they have to react to other drivers and pedestrians.
High winds make it difficult for a motorist to control their vehicle, especially if it is coming from the side. Wind also blows up sand, dust, dirt, and snow, which obscures visibility.
Snow and Sleet
Heavy snow and sleet affect a driver’s ability to see. They also create slippery conditions that impact both stopping time and distance.
A Driver’s Responsibility in Inclement Weather
Every driver on the road has a responsibility, known as a duty of care, to drive safely and do what is in their power to protect pedestrians and other vehicles from harm. Drivers are expected to adjust their driving behavior based on the conditions of the road. Depending on the weather, you can be held responsible for not adhering to your duty of care.
- Driving while fatigued, drowsy, or impaired
- Driving on tires not suited for the weather conditions
- Failing to obey traffic signals or road signs
- Distracted driving
- Driving without lights on or using headlights incorrectly
- Failing to use windshield wipers or not having adequate ones
- Speeding or reckless driving
With all of this in mind, determining liability in accidents due to weather is the same process that is followed on a clear, sunny day. Liability is determined by proving that the driver had a duty of care that they did not uphold, which resulted in them causing an accident.
When a Driver is Not Liable
There are a few instances where a driver can prove a lack of liability in accidents due to weather. One possible defense is the “Act of God” defense, which is used to describe vehicle crashes that are not the fault of any driver involved. This includes incidents like heavy winds blowing a tree over on your car or a tornado picking up a vehicle and spinning it into another lane.
Automobile Accident Attorneys in Tucson
Determining liability in a weather-related car accident is even more complicated than in a regular crash. If you are injured in this kind of accident, having an experienced law firm on your side can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case, which is why you need Grabb & Durando. You can count on our knowledgeable lawyers to go the extra mile in fighting for you.