How Does Weather Impact Driving?

When nature strikes without warning, motorists can unfortunately get caught in dangerous road conditions. Weather events have a large impact on the safety of roads and drivers. Extreme conditions like strong winds, pouring rain, and even extreme temperatures can make roads more hazardous, sometimes resulting in the need for road closures or restricted speeds.

When the weather worsens, accidents have been shown to increase. Adverse weather conditions can affect driver visibility, pavement friction, traffic patterns, stability, and vehicle performance. Poor driver visibility can cause more accidents, just as reduced pavement friction can cause cars to stop less readily or maneuver with reduced control.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), heavy rainfall is responsible for nearly half of all weather-related car accidents across the country. Although winter conditions may prove to be a more serious threat in other states than in California, rain is still the biggest and most common threat. Rain can also affect the amount of light that reflects back to drivers, making certain lines more difficult for drivers to see. When roads, lines, and other drivers are difficult to see, accidents happen.

When fog or rain reduces visibility, it can lead to increased speed variance between drivers on the road. When drivers are going at different speeds, more accidents happen. More than 38,000 motor vehicle collisions occur in fog each year, killing more than 600 individuals.

Are California Drivers Expected to Slow Down During Adverse Weather Conditions?

Perhaps the most basic requirement of all motorists during dangerous weather conditions is to slow down. The speed limits posted along the sides of the road only apply to ideal driving conditions. When contending with fog, rain, strong winds, and other inclement weather, motorists are expected to drive below the posted speed limit.

However, the exact speed limit reduction is not always clear. Still, it is possible for drivers to receive speeding tickets for exceeding the posted speed limit if weather conditions suggest that common sense should have directed them to slow down.

Unfortunately, and quite tragically, many drivers ignore these basic requirements, and the results can be catastrophic. If a driver was driving too fast during bad weather conditions, it is possible to hold them negligent for the cause of the accident, as a reasonable driver would have slowed down in the face of such weather conditions.

Are Headlights Required During Inclement Weather?

Failure to use headlights as intended during weather conditions and nighttime driving can result in potential fines. However, the worst consequences for failure to use headlights as intended can be catastrophic injuries and even death to motorists on the road.

If a motorist fails to operate their headlights as expected of them, they may become virtually invisible in certain weather conditions. In such conditions, this car on the road poses serious hazards to themselves and everyone else. If a car accident is caused by a motorist driving in bad weather conditions without their headlights on, they may be held negligent.

What Are the Core Principles of Car Accident Liability?

The two leading legal principles in determining liability in car accident cases are fault and negligence.

Negligence is a motorist’s failure to behave reasonably to prevent harm to themselves and others on the roads. Negligence claims need to prove four things: the driver’s duty of care, the breach of duty of care, causation, and resulting damages.

It is crucial for car accident victims and their legal representatives to establish fault in a car accident claim. The assignment of fault determines who should be held legally responsible for any economic or non-economic damages.

Who is at Fault When Bad Weather is at Least Partially to Blame for a Car Crash?

Determining liability can be a complicated process in car accident cases, especially when dangerous weather conditions are involved.

Regardless of weather conditions, California drivers have a legal duty to drive reasonably and responsibly. This includes obeying the rules of the road, driving at reasonable speeds (or following the speed limit during ideal conditions), and taking all necessary steps to avoid possible car crashes. When poor weather occurs, California’s drivers are expected to adjust their speeds and drive with more caution.

Even when weather contributes to a car crash, drivers and other parties may still be held at fault for not practicing extra care to avoid the car wreck.

How Can Your Personal Injury Lawyer Help You Prove Fault?

For accident lawyers, we will attempt to verify whether the new driver was exceeding speeds reasonable for their weather conditions, observing a safe distance from other vehicles, or could have done something to avoid the accident from occurring. Additionally, we will investigate whether the weather event was unexpected or anticipated.

In rare situations, a driver may be able to use an ‘Act of God’ defense to avoid liability.

What is Comparative Negligence?

California is a pure comparative negligence state, allowing people to file for compensation even if they were partially at fault for causing the accident. Comparative negligence is sometimes referred to as comparative fault. Under the law, investigations will look into each party’s actions and responsibilities and determine whether they contributed to the cause of the accident.

What Sort of Financial Recovery Is Possible for Your Car Accident Case?

With a strong car accident case, it is possible to recover a financial settlement for your injuries and losses. This may come in the form of economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages may include:

  • Past medical bills and future medical expenses.
  • Lost wages and lost income earning capacity.
  • Property damage.

Non-economic damages may include the following:

  • Pain and suffering.
  • Lost quality of life.
  • Wrongful death.

Schedule Your Free Initial Consultation with Our Experienced Car Accident Attorneys Today

If you have been in a car accident and inclement weather was involved, it is highly recommended that you retain legal representation from personal injury attorneys experienced in representing complex car accident cases. Our law firm has extensive legal experience representing clients in car accident claims, including those involving bad weather conditions, and we would be proud to represent your case in pursuit of financial compensation.

You may reach us at 626-280-6000.