Can Weather Play a Factor in the Outcome of a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Car accidents in bad weather happen every day across the country. Low visibility, slippery surfaces, and several other natural conditions can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. You may be concerned about whether Mother Nature will impact your lawsuit to recover for damages due to your car accident.
When you bring a lawsuit over your car accident alleging that some other party was at fault, the weather conditions will be considered by a court. How the weather conditions will be used in the decision process, however, depends entirely upon the circumstances of the accident. While hazardous driving conditions may be used as a superseding cause of the accident, they could also be used to imply that another driver’s failure to account for the conditions amounted to negligence for the purposes of the lawsuit.
If you were involved in a car accident where there were impactful weather conditions, you should speak to our experienced Arlington personal injury attorneys about your case. The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. has been filing, settling, and winning cases like yours for years, and we are determined to make your voice heard. Call our offices to schedule your consultation at (817) 476-1797.
Proving Negligence in Car Accident Lawsuits Involving Bad Weather
To hold another driver responsible for an accident, you must prove that they did something negligent. Sometimes, negligence will be based on mistakes like failing to look out for other drivers in your blind spot or violations of road rules. Other times, the weather will affect what a driver can do and could cause a crash even if the driver is being safe.
One appropriate rule for behavior while driving is being aware of weather conditions and how they may affect traffic patterns and vehicle performance. Suppose a driver is dealing with weather conditions that may increase the likelihood of car accidents. In that case, the driver must take reasonable care to adjust their driving behavior in order to compensate for the weather conditions.
Some examples of measures that a driver might reasonably be expected to take would include decreasing the rate of speed, utilizing high beams and other car lights, and maintaining a safe distance between other cars to allow for space to stop if necessary. In extreme weather conditions, the government may advise that people avoid driving except in the case of emergency.
The severity of the weather conditions will be contrasted with the subjective behavior of the driver accused of negligence to determine whether the conditions or the negligent acts or inactions of the driver caused the accident.
Impact of Weather Conditions on Compensation in a Car Accident Lawsuits
Depending on the state in which the accident occurred, damages from a car accident may be reduced based on the weather conditions. States that employ a modified comparative negligence theory will apportion fault in the form of a percentage. In other words, if a state finds that the defendant is only partially responsible for the occurrence of the accident, their liability will decrease proportionally to match their fault.
For example, let’s say that you were involved in an accident where the car behind you failed to observe your stopping because of heavy fog and smashed into the rear of your car. The driver of the car behind you, traveling at an unsafe speed considering the weather conditions, is at fault for the damages to your car and person caused by the impact.
However, if the court finds that you were partially negligent because you failed to use your turn signal, a jurisdiction using a modified comparative negligence theory could reduce the damages. So, if the court found that your negligent failure to use your turn signal was 30% responsible for the $10,000 in damages you incurred from the accident, the other driver would only be liable for $7,000. If you have questions about the type of theory your jurisdiction uses for damages, you should speak to one of our Dallas personal injury attorneys.
Impact of Weather Conditions on Liability of Third Parties
If weather conditions are particularly treacherous, an accident involving three or more vehicles is not uncommon. Lawsuits stemming from these “chain reaction” car accidents can be difficult to navigate because of the complex nature of comparative negligence theories in some states. If you were involved in a chain reaction car accident in bad weather conditions, it is advised that you speak to our attorneys about your options.
Further, liability for the damages may be spread among multiple parties. For instance, if a driver was traveling at a high rate of speed and skidded on an icy patch of road, causing a collision with another car, the other driver will likely be deemed negligent in a lawsuit.
However, the court could also determine that the government entity in charge of the road in question was also negligent in failing to fix the icy condition of the road or otherwise indicate the dangerous condition to drivers. Depending on the state’s adopted negligence theory and other statutes, the government may also be liable for the damages from the accident.
Naming the government in a civil suit for a car accident can be complicated, and procedural rules vary depending on the state and the particular government agency involved. If you feel that a government entity may be responsible for your accident, our experienced Houston car accident attorneys will explain the pertinent law and appropriate procedure so that you aren’t left in the lurch.
Talk to Our Attorneys About Your Car Accident Lawsuit in Bad Weather
Preparing, filing, and arguing a car accident lawsuit can be complex. The experienced Fort Worth car accident attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. are here to help you. To schedule your consultation, call us at (817) 476-1797.