why you need a criminal lawyer at your side

When Bad Weather Contributed To An Accident, Who's Fault Was It?

Have you been in a car accident that was seemingly caused by bad weather? Perhaps someone slid through a slippery intersection and rear ended you, or maybe you slid off the side of the road and hit a stop sign. When bad weather is a factor, it's easy to say "It was nobody's fault!" But that's not exactly how your insurance company will look at it. They will still go about determining fault while keeping the weather in mind. After all, either they have to pay for the damage or the other party's insurance company does! 

Here's a closer look at how the insurance company will go about determining who is at fault for an accident that occurred in bad weather.

Who acted negligently based on the weather?

To name someone "at fault" for any accident, the insurance company must demonstrate that the driver acted negligently. In other words, they must have failed to act in the way one would expect a reasonable, prudent person to act in the given situation.

The given situation, in this case, includes the current weather conditions. So if the insurance company can demonstrate that a driver did not take the proper precautions based on the weather when the accident occurred, that person can be named at fault.

Example 1: Imagine it's snowing and 20 degrees F outside. You approach an intersection traveling at 45 miles per hour in a 45 mile per hour zone. You brake, but you hit a patch of ice and skid into the car in front of you. Even though you were going the speed limit, you could be found at-fault for this accident because one could argue that, since it was snowing and cold, you should have been traveling well under the speed limit and should have braked earlier in case there was ice.

Example 2: Imagine you and another driver are both approaching a 4-way stop going opposite directions. Both of you are traveling at the speed limit, but the intersection is icy. You slide a little upon braking, though your car slides a little. The other car slides even further, side swiping your vehicle. You notice that the other driver is on their phone. In this case, the insurance company would likely find the other driver at-fault. Though you were both a bit negligent in traveling at the speed limit during poor weather, the other driver was more negligent because they were also texting.

Is someone other than either of the drivers at fault?

In many bad weather cases, someone other than one of the drivers is often found to be at-fault for the accident. For instance, if it has been snowing for hours and the town has neglected to plow or salt an intersection, an accident that occurs between two cautious, law-abiding drivers in that intersection may be found to be the fault of the town.

Sometimes a pedestrian who is not injured in the accident can even be found at fault. For instance, if someone steps into the crosswalk when the "do not walk" signal is lit, forcing you to slam on the brakes on an icy road and slam into a nearby sign, the pedestrian may be named at fault for the accident. If it were not for their actions, the accident would not have occurred.

Determining fault in an accident where weather is a factor is never simple. If you do not agree with your insurance company's determination, reach out to a car accident attorney. They may be able to collect additional evidence related to your case and ensure that fault is fairly assigned so you're not responsible for damage that you did not cause.