You got into a car accident during heavy rain. It’s severe enough for you to sue over. The other driver is blaming the weather.
Does the presence of rain, ice, snow, fog, or extreme heat limit the amount of money you can take home from a New York personal injury case? Can a defendant use poor conditions as an excuse to avoid paying you at all?
Remember, you can only sue if your case meets the serious injury threshold for car accident cases in New York. New York is a no-fault state.
Here’s what you need to know.
Weather Matters Less Than You Think
Weather doesn’t cause most car accidents.
Just look at this data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Risky behaviors like speeding, alcohol impairment, and failure to wear a seat belt caused 45% of crashes.
- Human error causes up to 90% of crashes.
- Weather events are involved in just 18% of crashes.
Note: the idea that human error causes most crashes is a fact that’s up for dispute. Some blame could fall on the shoulder of car companies and road designs. In the European Union, whose population is ⅓ larger than America’s, traffic deaths have dropped by 36% after imposing regulations on both groups.
The World Health Organization reports that 93% of the world’s fatalities on the roads occur in low-and-middle-income countries, even though these countries use approximately 60% of the world’s vehicles.
It may be because these countries have less sophisticated road designs and less power to dictate what safety features global automakers include.
The WHO also cites unsafe road infrastructure as a primary factor in driving accidents, citing a need to ensure adequate facilities for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. They suggest adding footpaths, cycling lanes, safe crossing points, and other “traffic calming measures.”
Sometimes, a government agency may be responsible for failing to exercise reasonable care to maintain roads or bridges safely. For example, they may fail to spread salt in a timely fashion after a heavy snowfall.
America tends to deflect responsibility away from these systemic factors instead of blaming individual drivers.
Either way, the weather still accounts for fewer accidents than negligence: someone, whether it’s the driver, the vehicle manufacturer, or the road engineer, isn’t doing all they could be doing to help prevent accidents.
Note: your attorney can help you identify and hold all responsible parties accountable.
Drivers Still Have Responsibilities in Bad Weather
For example, we all know we should drive slowly in bad weather. We all understand leaving more car lengths between cars is a good idea.
Bad weather isn’t a mitigating factor if drivers start tailgating and speeding. Failing to follow specific safety procedures in bad weather can prove that the other driver acted negligently.
We’ve also seen cases where drivers needed to maintain their cars better. For example, every driver has a duty of care to other drivers to help prevent accidents, and that duty includes having working windshield wipers. If a driver has failed to maintain their wiper blades, that’s a salient fact in a car accident case.
Your car accident case isn’t worth less money just because weather conditions were rough at the time of the accident. The defendant may use those conditions to claim the accident was “unavoidable.” They would do this to claim that an accident happened but that they were not responsible for it and did not act negligently.
That might work. A lawyer must prove that an accident happened but for the negligent party’s actions. They must be able to draw a direct line between the negligent party’s failure to perform a duty of care and the financial harm you suffered. If the accident would have happened anyway, then the plaintiff doesn’t have a case.
In most cases, however, the defendant is still expected to exercise reasonable care while driving. If they fail, they can be held liable for your severe accident or injuries. Your damages remain the same, regardless of whether or not it was raining, snowing, or foggy on the day of the accident.
Get Help Today
Everything we’ve said in this blog post is a generalization. How weather impacts your case will depend on the facts of the incident.
For more specific answers about what you can expect in your car accident case, contact us to schedule a free case review today.
We are personal injury experts. We’ve brought hundreds of cases to a successful conclusion and have helped our clients collect millions of dollars in settlement money.
Call now to get started.
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