How Can the Weather Impact My Car Accident Claim?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kathy McArthur with McArthur Law Firm.
Depending on the situation, weather conditions can seriously complicate liability in a car accident claim. In general, drivers are expected to slow down and exercise extra caution in hazardous weather, or to refrain from traveling in conditions that make driving unsafe altogether. When a car accident occurs in bad weather, typically one or both drivers were not exercising safe driving practices; however, an experienced car accident attorney may be able to argue on your behalf if the accident could have been avoided without the contribution from the environment.
The following weather conditions can make driving particularly hazardous and even impossible:
- Wet roads
- Freezing rain
- Sun glare
- Heavy winds
Any weather condition that affects the vehicle’s ability to perform safely, or inhibits the driver’s senses (i.e. obscured vision), can result in dangerous situations for anyone on the road. Whenever you find yourself traveling in non-ideal weather conditions it’s important to exercise additional caution, slow down, give space, and avoid slamming on the brakes.
Weather can make it difficult to identify who is at fault.
Unlike standard car accidents where weather is not a significant factor, when one or both drivers reference the poor weather conditions as a cause for the accident, it can be particularly difficult to identify liability. Liability in a car accident lawsuit refers to who is more at fault for the accident.
Depending on your state, you may or may not be eligible to seek a financial recovery if you were partially at fault. In most states, even a partially at-fault driver can seek compensation in a reduced amount; this is referred to as comparative negligence. Georgia, for instance, practices modified comparative negligence, in which a driver who is at-fault can still seek partial compensation as long as they are no more than 49% responsible for the collision.
However, with the added complication of weather, it will likely take accident reconstruction and roadway safety experts to figure out what happened, how the weather contributed, and what one or both drivers could have done differently to avoid or reduce the damage of the accident. All of this evidence can then be presented before a jury who will help to establish the percentage of liability that falls with each party. It should be noted that admitting to any kind of fault after an accident is not recommended; it is unfortunately common for one party to admit to partial fault only to find that the other party was texting while driving at the time of the accident and is also liable.
If you were involved in a car accident during bad weather, consider the following steps:
- Call the police. It is particularly important in dangerous weather conditions to contact the police; law enforcement can help secure the scene of the accident and prevent dangerous pileups from occurring. This also ensures that emergency medical care will be available at the scene in the event of an urgent injury.
- Take pictures documenting the weather conditions. If weather contributed to the accident, it’s important to document the weather conditions at the time when the accident occurred. This could mean taking pictures of ice on the roadway, rainy skies or standing water, and even pictures of trees bending to the wind to illustrate wind speed and direction at the time of the accident. This can all help in the accident reconstruction process and establishing where liability lies.
- Take pictures of the accident. It’s also important to take pictures of any vehicles involved in the accident, damage sustained by the vehicles, and any other property which might have been damaged in the collision.
- Collect witness information. If anyone else witnessed the accident, it’s a good idea to get their name, phone number, and even record a testimony with their agreement to help verify the events of the car accident.
- Seek medical treatment. Even if you do not feel injured following an accident, it is still extremely important to seek medical care. Some injuries may not become symptomatic until days or even weeks after the accident, but waiting to seek care can have a negative impact on your case down the road.
- Talk to a car accident attorney in your area. Car accidents caused or contributed to by inclement weather can be particularly tricky to assess and litigate. If you or a loved one were injured in a motor vehicle collision in bad weather, even if you think you might be at fault, reach out to an experienced car accident attorney in your area.
To learn more about how weather can impact a car accident claim, or for help filing, reach out to a car accident attorney near you.