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Does Bad Weather Play a Role in Car Accident Liability?

driving in rain

Car accidents occur year-round in Northern California, regardless of the weather or road conditions. However, as winter weather approaches, it’s important to know what additional dangers you may face on the road and how these factor into determining liability in the event of a car accident.

How Does Weather Impact Road Safety?

Any seasoned driver knows that driving through rain and inclement weather is inherently more challenging than driving on a clear, sunny day. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that weather plays a role in about 21% of all vehicle crashes. Rain is by far the most dangerous weather condition to drive in—70% of weather-related accidents occur on wet pavement and 46% occur during rainfall.

Here are a few ways that rain and wet pavement can impact safety and lead to more car accidents:

  • Hydroplaning. This occurs on wet pavement when your tires lose traction with the road and slide over the wet surface, causing you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Hindered Visibility. Rain can decrease visibility and make it difficult to see farther ahead on the road or even road hazards that are right in front of you.
  • Traveling Too Fast. Even going the posted speed limit during times of rainfall can be dangerous and lead to rear-end collisions or cause you to lose control.

How Is Liability Determined in a Weather-Related Accident?

Every driver who gets behind the wheel takes on a certain implied duty of care. Essentially, this means that they have a duty to maintain control of their vehicle and take all necessary steps that any other reasonable driver would take to avoid an accident.

With this in mind, all drivers are required to adjust their driving habits when all road conditions, weather conditions, and external factors are taken into consideration. For instance, if it just started sprinkling and the road is not yet very wet, it’s probably safe to keep going at the posted speed limit. But if there is a heavy downpour that hinders visibility and reduces tire traction, a reasonable driver should reduce their speed in order to maintain maximum control of their car.

Weather is just one of the many factors that are taken into consideration when determining negligence and liability in a car accident case. Other factors include whether, at the time of the accident, either or both drivers involved were:

  • Driving with worn tires
  • Not using headlights or windshield wipers
  • Speeding
  • Intoxicated or impaired
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Distracted
  • Engaging in reckless or dangerous driving
  • Violating any traffic laws
  • Failing to obey road signs

Ultimately, the insurance company will take into consideration all of the above factors and look at the situation as a whole in order to determine whether you or the other driver failed to uphold your duty of care. Don’t just take the insurance adjuster’s word for it, though—make sure that you contact a car accident attorney who can gather all the right evidence to ensure that you are not wrongfully blamed for the crash.

Injured in a Northern California Car Accident?

If you’re injured in a Northern California car accident and weather played a role in the crash, do not attempt to go up against the insurance company by yourself. Hiring a seasoned car accident attorney is your best bet at receiving maximum compensation from the insurance company.

At the Law Offices of Larry S. Buckley, our legal team is dedicated to helping those injured in Chico and the surrounding areas recover physically, emotionally, and financially. We will work hard on your behalf to negotiate with the insurance company so you obtain the rightful reimbursement for your damages.

To schedule a free, personalized case review, contact our firm at (530) 413-0245 or fill out our online contact form. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your legal needs.

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