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Am I Liable For A Car Accident That Occurred Because of Bad Weather?

Traffic Jam On A Snowy Highway Stock Photo

Many drivers who have been in a car accident may feel that the accident was unavoidable for various reasons. One of the biggest of those reasons is the fact that inclement weather made driving conditions dangerous. In these incidents where an auto accident occurs during bad weather, both the hit driver and the driver of the colliding vehicle may wonder where the fault lies.

The truth is that insurers and lawyers must consider the weather as part of a complex equation that also includes accident scene evidence, whether or not either driver had been drinking or was distracted, and a host of other factors. Therefore, the weather may only be to blame under specific circumstances based on the following information.

Would a Reasonable Person Know Which Way the Wind Blows?

Many allegations of negligence are met with a logical exercise lawyers refer to as the “reasonable person” test. Basically, if the person who caused the accident was behaving and making decisions as a theoretical “reasonable person” of average intelligence and capability would, then they likely were not negligent.

When it comes to normal driving, a reasonable person can be someone who obeys speed limits and traffic signs while avoiding dangerous activities like driving while intoxicated or getting distracted. This test also applies to mild weather events, such as a light drizzle. A reasonable person may not have difficulty using their windshield wipers, turning on their headlights and driving through the sprinkling rain in such a way as to avoid an accident.

However, under severe weather conditions like driving in snow or a torrential downpour, a reasonable driver would likely behave differently. Faced with the risks of low visibility and poor tire traction, they may drive much slower, avoid sudden turns, and be extra cautious trying to see other vehicles around them. Therefore, someone can be driving the posted speed limit and obeying traffic signs as usual during a severe weather event and still be determined to be negligent if they cause an accident if they failed to adjust those behaviors accordingly.

On the other hand, someone who drives extra cautiously in severe weather can legitimately enter in an unavoidable situation and cause an accident. For instance, their vehicle may hydroplane even at lower-than-usual speeds and cause them to wreck into a car beside them. Insurers, judges, juries and lawyers will all consequently consider the facts of the environment and each driver’s actions separately when deciding where the fault lies.

What to Do if You Have Been in a Car Accident During Severe Weather

If you have been involved in a car accident, regardless of whether you are struck car or the colliding one, you should always check for injuries between yourself and all involved parties. Contact emergency services, as well as any medical services as needed.

Report the incident to the responding officer to the highest level of detail you can recall, including moments when your visibility was poor or when the sequence of events was unclear. Request a statement from any bystanders and, if they are willing, other parties involved in the accident. Also, request for their insurance carrier’s information. Avoid statements like “I’m sorry,” or “it was my fault” at the scene of the accident.

Once you have left the scene, seek out medical attention as needed, contact your insurer and then consider contacting a South Carolina car accident attorney. They can help represent you if you have an injury claim as a result of the accident or if you fear a claim being filed against you.

You can use our contact form to the side to get a free case evaluation and to potentially start your auto accident claim today.