Colorado roadways can quickly become hazardous in the right conditions. Ice, snow, and sleet can make roads slippery in the winter months. Also, fog or heavy rain can impair visibility at times. However, most drivers need to be made aware of who is responsible in the case of a weather accident.
In this blog post, we will answer the question, “Are weather-related accidents at fault cases?” We will also explain whether you can be held liable during a weather-related accident and how seasoned car accident lawyers can help you in the event of a legal case.
Understanding Weather-Related Accidents
Depending on where you live in Colorado, you likely experience extreme weather and hazardous driving conditions occasionally. The average annual snowfall in Colorado is approximately 67 inches for the entire state, which makes car accidents in snow more likely than in warmer states.
Most drivers take precautions and adjust their driving style by slowing down and being attentive during lousy weather. Some individuals change their tires proactively to mitigate the risk of car accidents in snow, sleet, or rain. However, not all drivers adjust, and that’s when a weather accident can become an at-fault car accident. In such cases, the at-fault driver failed to take necessary precautions to accommodate the weather conditions.
Common Types of Weather-Related Accidents
According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), just over 20% of all accidents are due to weather conditions . During bad weather, car accidents tend to occur more frequently.
Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most common weather accident causes.
Rain creates hazardous driving conditions by reducing visibility and creating slippery roads. Statistics show that 46% of weather-related crashes stem from rain. Furthermore, wet pavement poses a danger for driving due to reduced tire traction, causing the risk of skidding. Statistics showed that damp pavement was a factor in 70% of weather-related crashes.
Snow and sleet create treacherous driving conditions due to reduced traction and limited visibility, heightening the risk of accidents. Snow causes 18% of weather-related crashes. Icy pavement also poses a significant danger for driving due to its slippery surface, resulting in 13% of weather-related crashes.
Fog presents dangers for driving due to severely reduced visibility, leading to potential collisions and difficulty navigating roadways. Surprisingly, car crashes contribute to only 3% of weather-related crashes.
Recognizing the weather you’re facing is vital as it impacts road conditions and increases the likelihood of an accident. Additionally, this awareness enables you to adjust your driving approach to better suit prevailing weather conditions.
Determining Liability in Weather Accidents
Establishing liability in a weather accident can be more challenging than an accident under ideal driving conditions. In adverse weather, drivers (and insurance companies) often label accidents as an “Act of God” or assert no one was at fault. In some instances, despite adverse weather conditions, an individual may still be at fault for the accident.
Negligence vs. “Act of God”
In an accident, the “Act of God” defense means that the crash was unavoidable and weather conditions were at fault. If no one is at fault in a car accident, then no one can be liable for the damages. However, difficult weather conditions only partially exonerate drivers from their duty to operate their vehicles safely.
Weather can significantly alter driving conditions, posing challenges for navigation. Despite these difficulties, drivers still must maintain control of their vehicles. Failure to remain in control can constitute negligence. Drivers are legally obliged to adapt: drive cautiously, reduce speed, and maintain safe distances.
Understanding the distinction between negligence and the “Act of God” defense is crucial for determining liability in an accident.
Possible Determinants of Fault in Bad Weather Conditions
Possible determinants of fault for weather accidents include evidence that a driver was not adequately considering road conditions. For example, car accidents in snow may attribute liability to a driver who causes the accident by speeding.
However, adhering to the speed limit sometimes doesn’t absolve a driver from liability. If they drove unsuitably, considering the weather, they could still be held responsible for an accident.
Also, drivers are legally obligated to turn on their headlights whenever conditions necessitate windshield wipers. For instance, drivers who neglect to use headlights or windshield wipers might be considered responsible for car accidents in snow.
During hazardous conditions, vehicles should maintain a safe following distance and avoid tailgating other cars. As a result, drivers can be liable for accidents due to weather conditions if there is insufficient space between vehicles.
Implications of Weather on Accident Compensation Claims
If you get into a car accident during severe weather, one or more parties involved will likely invoke the weather as the cause of the accident. This defense strategy is a common way to allocate fault to factors beyond human control.
Impact of Bad Weather on Insurance Claims
Insurance companies may be mainly motivated to blame an accident on bad weather. They may be eager to accept that the accident was an “Act of God” and to move on to avoid a payout or a lawsuit. However, if you can show that the other party is responsible due to negligence, you should not accept a no-fault judgment. In either case, gathering evidence becomes paramount to support your claim.
Essential Evidence for Weather Accident Claims
The evidence you need to establish fault in accidents due to weather conditions mirrors what you’d gather if the weather is clear. Here are some of the basics you will need:
- Crash report: Get a copy of the crash report produced by the police officers who responded to the accident.
- Physical evidence: Do your best to record any physical evidence. There may be skid marks at the scene (which are sometimes more visible in wet or snowy conditions). You can also try to get video evidence from a nearby camera.
- Witness statements: Get statements from witnesses about the crash. You may have a witness who can testify that the other driver was operating their vehicle recklessly in light of the conditions. Gather contact information in case you need those witnesses to speak with your lawyer or insurance representative.
- Medical Evidence (if applicable): Schedule appointments with healthcare providers to document and verify personal injuries sustained in a car accident. Personal injury lawyers collaborate with healthcare providers to utilize documented medical evidence from car accident injuries, strengthening compensation claims.
Collecting sufficient information to prove whether the accident is due to weather conditions or the other driver’s fault is critical. This evidence clarifies whether the accident was caused merely by bad weather or if the other driver’s behavior played a role in the collision.
What Next? Seeking Compensation in Car Accidents Due to Weather Conditions
When navigating Colorado’s diverse weather, understanding liability in car accidents due to weather conditions becomes crucial. From wet and icy pavements to foggy roadways, each condition heightens the risk of accidents. Understanding who or what is liable in these situations is vital, and having a skilled car accident lawyer is essential.
The lawyers at Legal Help in Colorado are committed to guiding you through the stress of weather-related accidents and the legal issues that come with it. A car accident lawyer ensures that your interests are protected, whether deciphering negligence during lousy weather or countering claims of an “Act of God.” Don’t let weather conditions cloud your understanding of liability– seek legal help today!