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Weather Related Accidents

Driving during adverse weather conditions can be both challenging and complex. Despite the warm weather that is common in Southern California, there are instances when storms and strong winds can pose a threat to drivers on both local roads and highways. Some may believe they cannot be held responsible for accidents that occur due to dangerous weather, however, it is crucial to understand that all drivers have a responsibility to others on the road, including reducing speed and modifying driving techniques in hazardous weather conditions.

Elements of a Negligence Case Arising from a Weather-Related Accident

Drivers on the road have a responsibility to act in a reasonable manner while operating their vehicles. In cases of inclement weather that could make the roads more treacherous, drivers must act with reasonable caution, which often involves slowing down or turning on their headlights. If a driver fails to take such precautions and causes an accident, the victim may be able to claim that the driver breached their duty of care towards other drivers on the road by driving carelessly or recklessly in the dangerous weather conditions.

To successfully pursue a negligence case, the plaintiff must demonstrate the following key elements under California law:

  • The defendant was negligent in their actions
  • The plaintiff suffered harm as a result 
  • The defendant’s negligence was a significant contributing factor to the plaintiff’s harm.

 

Which Kinds of Adverse Weather Can Lead to Accidents?

Have you ever thought about the various weather conditions that could trigger a road mishap? Despite California being known for its sunny weather all year round, it can also experience severe rainfall, fog, smog, and other weather patterns that can impact driving conditions. Intense rainfall, for instance, can result in flooded roads, increase the risk of hydroplaning, and eventually cause accidents.

Flooding and Hydroplaning: Unpredictable Threats on the Road

Flash flooding is a formidable and unavoidable hazard on the road. During heavy rain, flash floods can quickly arise, leaving drivers on the road with limited options.

Here are some of the dangers that heavy rain and flash floods can pose to drivers:

  • Heavy traffic and congestion
  • Poor visibility
  • Blocked lanes
  • Degraded road conditions
  • Moving obstacles in flood waters
  • Hydroplaning
  • And more.

Smog and Fog: The Importance of Safe Driving in Poor Visibility Conditions

It’s crucial to understand that smog and fog do not excuse careless driving. Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles responsibly and safely. When uncontrollable factors, such as unfavorable weather, smog, or fog, increase the likelihood of an accident, it’s the driver’s duty to exercise a heightened level of caution while driving.

In low visibility conditions, drivers should take necessary precautions, such as:

  • Turning on their headlights
  • Slowing down their speed
  • Reducing distractions
  • Increasing their following distance
  • And other basic safety measures

If a driver fails to follow these safety measures and it results in an accident, they can be held liable for any harm caused.

Cloudy Skies Top the List of Weather-Related Causes of Fatal Car Accidents

According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Association (NHTSA), cloudy weather is the leading cause of fatal vehicle accidents. On average, approximately 5,000 fatal accidents are attributed to cloudy conditions each year.

This is due to reduced visibility in cloudy skies, which makes it more difficult to spot potential hazards on the road, such as potholes and debris. Additionally, many people don’t realize that driving in cloudy weather can be dangerous, so they don’t take the necessary precautions to drive safely.

The Most Prevalent Season for Car Accidents

The summer months tend to see the highest number of accidents for a few reasons. Firstly, there’s generally an increase in traffic volume with more people on the road, including tourists visiting California and locals heading to the beach. Additionally, summer also witnesses younger, less experienced drivers on the road at all hours.

However, the months between November and February are known to have a higher number of accidents caused by inclement weather. December, in particular, records around 1,000 fatal crashes. Other parts of the country also experience treacherous driving conditions during this time, such as rain, snow, sleet, and fog with higher wind speeds.

Despite these dangerous weather-related incidents, they are still far behind the impact of cloudiness, which is the leading cause of fatal car accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Association (NHTSA). Statistics show that rain results in about 2,750 fatal accidents annually, while snow and fog each contribute to about 400 fatalities per year. Part of the reason for the higher number of accidents during cloudy weather is that cloudy days are more common in many parts of the country than days with ice, fog, and other weather hazards.

When Should I File a Weather-Related Accident Claim 

In California, the statute of limitations for most automobile accident claims is two years. This means that if you were injured in an accident, you have two years from the date of the incident to file a claim for compensation.

However, if the claim is against a government entity, the statute of limitations is typically reduced to six months. This rule may apply to your case if the negligent driver was a government employee on duty at the time of the collision.

It’s important to note that if a claim is not filed within the statute of limitations, the potential claimant may be barred from pursuing a lawsuit.

The Influence of Comparative Fault on Weather-Related Accident Claims

Comparative fault is a common defense raised by the party at fault in an accident, suggesting that the plaintiff shares some responsibility for the incident. Under California law, even if the plaintiff is found to be partially responsible for the accident, they can still recover damages, but the amount will be reduced by their degree of fault.

For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $1,000,000 and is found to be 50 percent at fault, their award will be reduced by 50 percent, which is $500,000. Thus, they would receive a total of $500,000 in compensation.

Evidence for a Weather Accident Claim

To recover compensation for damages in a weather-related accident, you must prove that the other driver acted negligently. You can do this with evidence like a police report, witness statements, photos of the accident scene, medical records, and receipts for expenses such as car repairs and missed work. Your car accident attorney can help you gather this evidence to support your personal injury claim. Don’t forget to document any lost wages and get a written repair estimate from a qualified facility. Strong documentation is key to proving your damages and losses.

If you have been in an accident caused by inclement weather, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. To strengthen your personal injury claim, it’s important to have evidence that shows the other driver was at fault due to negligence.

Your lawyer will assist you in gathering the necessary documentation, but here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Call the police to file an accident report, which will mention the weather conditions at the time of the crash.
  2. Obtain statements from any witnesses at the scene.
  3. Take photos of the accident location and the damage to the vehicles involved.
  4. Seek medical attention and keep all medical records and bills.
  5. Keep receipts for rental cars, tow bills, and any expenses related to the accident.
  6. Document missed work and lost wages.

Having proper documentation is crucial in supporting your claim and proving the total amount of your losses.

If you have been involved in a weather related accident, we encourage you to reach out to our experienced team of legal professionals for further help and guidance. 

 

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