There are many factors to take into consideration when determining who’s
at fault in a car accident. Sometimes, there are factors beyond your control
at play, such as bad winter weather. But such circumstances aren’t
excuses to dismiss accidents as “nobody’s fault,” as
juries and insurance companies simply use them the way the would any conditions
or pieces of evidence in determining negligence or fault.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you likely need an experienced
car accident attorney on your side. They will help you in determining
whether you were at fault and the extent of negligence on either side
of the accident. Here are some things to consider if you’ve been
involved in a car accident that took place during inclement weather.
Who Was Negligent?
“Negligence” describes the idea that someone involved in a
car accident must be at fault for it because they did not exercise the
amount of care that the situation would call for from any reasonable individual.
Negligence looks different depending on the specific circumstances of
an accident; it encompasses actions one would or wouldn’t do if
they were a reasonable person in such a situation.
When determining liability in car accident, negligence is the key factor.
It is possible that the weather involved truly impacted your or the other
driver’s ability to respond to the situation appropriately. However,
weather is just one of many factors used in determining which driver was
at fault. The “reasonable person” stipulation does not disappear
with a bad storm. Rather, if there was bad weather occurring at the time
of the accident, the jury or insurer would need to see that you still
responded to the situation in a reasonable, careful way.
Liability in Bad Weather
Because of the increased hazards associated with bad weather—lower
visibility, slippery roads, etc.—drivers are expected to adapt their
driving to the situation at hand, for the safety of themselves, passengers,
and other cars on the road. There may be other factors in determining
negligence as well, such as both drivers’ speeds, potential levels
of intoxication, road conditions, and distractions.
For example, assume it was raining just slightly, but not enough to impact
the road conditions or visibility. In such a case, the weather may not
be taken into account in determining negligence in a car accident case.
But if it was a heavier rain, or otherwise worse weather, a reasonable
person would be expected to act accordingly, and slow down their driving.
If you did not adjust your speed or other driving conditions during such
weather, the insurance adjuster may find you at fault in the accident
since you did not exercise the appropriate amount of care. Conversely,
if you can prove that you did adjust your driving speed and safe distance
in harsh conditions, but an accident occurred nonetheless, you may be
able to fight liability placed on you.
Having an experienced car accident attorney on your side will only serve
to benefit you in such cases. If you are in the areas of Monterey or San
Jose, give us a call at Dunnion Law Firm