In Inclement Conditions, Is Anyone Liable for a Crash?
Who’s to blame for the rain? No one. But a rainy day doesn’t automatically excuse drivers who collide with other vehicles. The same is true with fog, snow, or a full-blown storm. No matter what the weather’s like outside, people still have to exercise caution. If they make a wrong move or a careless decision and you get seriously hurt, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against them. And we can help.
The Tenge Law Firm, LLC, is a full-service law firm with offices in Boulder, Denver, and Fort Collins. As a boutique firm, we give individual attention to a small number of clients with cases involving devastating injuries. If you think you really need a lawyer, give us a call at (303) 758-0393. Your consultation is free, and we have recovered millions of dollars for deserving clients. Let us see what we can do for you.
A Strong Chance of Weather-Related Dangers
Based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 21% of the five million crashes the United States sees annually – nearly 1,235,000 – have adverse weather as a factor. Around 5,000 people are killed and 400,000 more wounded by weather-related crashes every year.
This adverse weather for driving includes:
- Rain: Falling rain can impact your ability to see through your windows, and create slippery surfaces for your wheels. Wet pavement doesn’t have as much traction, so cars need more time to come to a stop, and any sudden braking can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle.
- Snow or sleet: The cold can lock up some vital parts of the car, and snow or sleet can accumulate on the roof, hide traffic signs, and create whiteout conditions.
- Ice: Icy roads cause untold collisions. Black ice is especially hard to detect, and can send the vehicle skidding off the road or into another object.
- Fog: Mist, fog, and even smoke from another accident can completely remove your ability to see obstacles. Some drivers try to put on the high-beams to help, but that actually creates more danger
- High crosswinds: Wind can raise up dust and debris, obscuring your visibility, or rock your vehicle from side to side, potentially making you lose control.
After a snowier-than-usual winter in Colorado, we tend to have wetter springs and summers. When there’s a high moisture content in the soil, it tends to produce even more showers and storms. May and June traditionally have the most “volatile” activity in the Denver/Front Range area. But accurate forecasting is usually done on a day-by-day basis, so drivers should always check their weather apps and the local news before hitting the road.
Since NHTSA data indicate that a vast majority of weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall, it’s important to keep this in mind. A smaller percentage of accidents occur during snow/sleet, on icy pavement, or on snowy/slushy pavement, and only 3% of recorded weather-related crashes happen in the presence of fog – but that can change in an instant, depending on which conditions descend on your area. The “bomb cyclone” we saw in 2019 is a good example of this, it caused numerous accidents, including a 100-vehicle pileup.
When Might Another Driver Be Liable?
As personal injury attorneys, we see that most preventable weather-related crashes are caused by a driver:
- Being distracted: We know visibility is poor in bad weather, but apps on a phone will not help anyone navigate the roads ahead. To do that, the driver must be focused on factors outside the car, and minimize distractions inside.
- Speeding: Traveling too fast for conditions is a major cause of weather-related crashes, and will send many vehicles spinning out of control.
- Tailgating: Following too closely increases a driver’s odds of hitting the car in front of them, and it takes more distance to come to a stop in inclement weather.
- Making aggressive moves: If you cannot tell what another driver is trying to do, or that driver makes a sudden, improper lane change, they can force you off the road or make you collide with another object when trying to avoid them.
- Having malfunctioning lights or other equipment: Some drivers are held to a higher standard than others. In a crash, commercial trucks can do a lot more damage than the average car, so their drivers need to make sure everything is working properly before hitting the road. They also have to follow federal safety regulations, and when they don’t, both trucker and company may be held liable for causing a crash, weather or not.
In fact, if the conditions outside are looking too dangerous, responsible trucking companies and drivers shouldn’t be traveling at all.
After a weather-related accident, don’t assume it was all your fault or it couldn’t possibly be avoided. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to investigate your case. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to deny or diminish rightful claims, and the weather can give them a strong excuse to do so – unless you fight back.
Why Tenge Law Firm, LLC, Is the Team for You
After a devastating injury, not just any lawyer will do. Whether you have suffered traumatic brain injury, amputation, spinal cord damage, or broken bones, you need an experienced legal team that understands the unique complexities of car accident cases.
From our more than 30 years of experience handling serious crashes in Colorado, the Tenge Law Firm, LLC, knows how to find compelling evidence to support your claim, even after a confusing winter-weather crash. We work with accident reconstructionists and other experts when necessary, and have a network of medical providers to get our clients the care they need. While you recover, we’ll calculate every expense you incurred because of the accident, and negotiate a settlement for you. If necessary, we’ll go to trial.
With every client we take on, we focus on the 4Rs: reviews, ratings, results, and relationships. When you work with our team, you’re treated like family. Call (303) 758-0393 or submit our contact form today to get started.