Bad weather can significantly increase the risk of an automobile accident, and therefore requires extra precaution. When drivers choose to ignore the dangers of inclement weather, someone can get seriously injured or killed in an accident. But that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to identify who the negligent party is. Defendants in bad weather accident cases often try to turn the tables and blame the plaintiffs.
If you were hurt in a car accident and bad weather was a factor, securing skilled legal counsel is essential to protecting your rights. Hale & Monico understands that accidents can be complicated for a number of reasons, which is why we work hard to get to the bottom of who is liable. You can count on us to demand the compensation you need.
How To Know When Weather Might Be A Factor
All drivers have a duty of care which obligates them to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. However, that duty is often dependent upon circumstances outside of anyone’s control. A driver who is stuck in heavy rush hour traffic will need to conduct him- or herself differently than one who is cruising on an open interstate. The same is true when it comes to weather.
Here are some common weather conditions and how they could affect liability in your accident case:
Rain. Precipitation decreases visibility and makes the roads slicker. Oil on the surface of a roadway does not mix with water, and the consequences can prove tragic. Drivers need to allow more space between vehicles and slower speeds so they can decrease speed more easily.
Snow and ice. Everyone knows that snow and ice can lead to skidding, but what should responsible drivers do? First, they should beware of obstructed street markings that make it difficult to determine which lane they are in. Next, they should watch out for black ice and assume any surface is slippery. Finally, more distance between them and the next car, and slower speeds, are required to be safe.
Wind. Unexpected wind gusts can push vehicles into other lanes, causing serious and sometimes fatal accidents. The risk is especially pronounced for large vehicles, like trucks, that can be blown off course and careen into other automobiles. Careful control of the steering wheel is essential when wind speeds are higher than normal.
Cold. Tire pressure can vary based on external air temperature, and cold weather, in particular, can cause problems. It’s not uncommon for tires to go flat or lose air pressure when it’s cold, and for drivers not to notice. Motorists should always check their tires before driving and be on the lookout for electronic gauges on their dashboards that indicate reduced pressure.
The above are only a few suggestions for safer driving in poor weather. Sometimes, the best thing to do is use common sense. If you don’t have to be on the road, and the weather is bad, it’s better to stay home.
Proving Liability In An Inclement Weather Accident
Drivers who choose to get on the road during bad weather are responsible for safely operating their vehicles. That means not only taking such precautions like those above but avoiding negligent behavior even more stridently than normal. Speeding, for example, is already dangerous. But speed plus weather can be a deadly combination.
After an accident, it will be the victim’s job to prove that another driver (or multiple drivers) did not act with reasonable care. In an accident case, that’s referred to as the breach of the duty of care. The events leading up to the accident will be highly relevant in establishing that a driver violated their duty and was negligent. For example, your accident attorney might ask these questions:
- Was the at-fault driver speeding during a rainstorm?
- Was the driver following other vehicles too closely?
- Were there any sudden lane changes during slick conditions?
- Were the tires improperly inflated?
Evidence may be obtained from several different sources. The victim’s recollections are a good place to start. Other witnesses to the accident, including passengers in the victim’s car, could also step up. Sometimes there is surveillance video or photographs taken of the accident scene, which can assist the work of a forensic accident reconstruction expert. Maybe the responsible party was driving for a company, which opens the door to that business possibly being held responsible for an act or omission.
Could I Be Partly Liable For My Accident?
Automobile accident victims are sometimes shocked to be accused of negligent behavior in their cases, especially when inclement weather is involved. In Illinois, victims can share liability for their accidents, and thereby reduce the amount of damages they would otherwise recover. The state follows a modified comparative negligence rule which says that when a victim is responsible for an accident, their award is reduced by the percentage of blame assigned to them. If the victim is more than 50% liable for his or her accident, he or she will recover nothing.
For example, suppose that the negligent driver accuses you of also being negligent by speeding. After the trial, you are determined to be 15% liable for the accident, and damages are set at $100,000. Your award will be reduced by 15% to $85,000. On the other hand, if your speeding puts you at over 50% liability, you won’t be awarded any damages.
Bad weather makes it more difficult for everyone, including the victim, to drive safely. That fact often leads accident defense lawyers to blame the victim in an attempt to reduce their clients’ losses. In a case like this, you need a dedicated accident attorney ready to fight for you.
Contact A Chicago Inclement Weather Automobile Accident Attorney
Our automobile accident attorneys know how to stand up to insurance companies and their lawyers. Inclement weather presents unique challenges, but our team is ready to handle them. Reach out to us today to schedule your confidential consultation.