If you are injured in a traffic accident that happens in bad weather, that bad weather may complicate any of your efforts to be compensated for your injuries and damages.
You’ll learn how New Orleans car accident attorneys handle “bad weather” accident cases. You will also learn how you may be compensated for injuries even when bad weather appears to be the cause of your accident and injuries.
WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF MOST TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS?
How frequently is bad weather the cause of serious traffic accidents? In 2015, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) listed the five leading reasons why traffic accidents occur in that state. Weather did not make the list.
The CHP said the top five reasons for California traffic accidents were:
1. distracted driving
2. excessive speed
3. aggressive driving
4. driving under the influence
Traffic accidents happen for all kinds of “reasons,” but almost always – and even in bad weather – there is an at-fault driver who is the real cause of the accident.
CAN A DRIVER BE HELD LIABLE FOR A BAD-WEATHER ACCIDENT?
Of course, in many traffic collisions, bad weather is a factor. It reduces your visibility, and it makes the streets slick and dangerous. When bad weather is a factor in a traffic crash, identifying an at-fault driver becomes a more difficult task.
The law in every state expects motorists to take whatever precautions are needed for driving safely in bad weather conditions.
For example, if a motorist approaches a stop sign or traffic signal while driving too fast in the rain, hydroplanes into the intersection, and causes a multi-vehicle collision, that driver may be found liable – in some cases, even if the driver was traveling below the posted speed limit.
This might seem unfair to some. Should a driver really be held responsible for something that happened because the weather was bad?
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT BAD-WEATHER ACCIDENTS?
The law places the responsibility on drivers for adapting their driving behavior to whatever weather conditions are prevailing. It is always your choice to drive or not to drive, and it is always your responsibility to drive in a way that compensates for bad weather.
The personal injury laws in all fifty states make it clear that every driver is legally obligated to take “reasonable care” to avoid traffic accidents.
Thus, in a rainstorm, a driver’s obligation is to slow down. When visibility is low, the speed limit may be too high. Drivers are also obligated to back off and refrain from following others too closely in bad weather.
HOW IS LIABILITY DETERMINED IN A WEATHER-RELATED ACCIDENT?
Bad weather is a factor in twenty-two percent of the traffic crashes in the United States – that’s more than a million traffic accidents every year. Insurance companies, attorneys, and law enforcement officials ask these questions about bad-weather traffic collisions:
1. Was the driver moving at a reasonable speed given the weather conditions?
2. Was the driver following other vehicles at a safe distance?
3. Was the bad weather expected or unexpected?
4. Could the driver have acted to avoid the crash?
In most bad-weather collisions, at least one driver can be held at-fault and liable if that driver could have acted to prevent the collision.
ARE THERE BAD-WEATHER ACCIDENTS WHERE NO DRIVERS ARE LIABLE?
While it is drivers who are almost always liable for traffic accidents, it is important to understand that there have in fact been some very rare instances where a driver may offer an “act of God” defense – when the driver simply could not avoid an accident because of bad weather conditions.
What is the bottom line regarding bad-weather traffic accidents? A motorist may be deemed at-fault for a crash even if the weather was a factor in the crash. Drivers must use caution in bad weather, and if you are injured by an at-fault driver, you are entitled to compensation.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN A TRAFFIC WRECK HAPPENS?
If you are involved in an accident – in good weather or bad – here is what you’ll need to do:
1. If anyone is injured, summoning medical attention is the top priority. Even if you don’t think you have been injured, have a medical examination – to protect yourself both medically and legally – within the first twenty-four hours after the accident.
2. Summon the police to the scene and make sure that you will receive a copy of their written accident report when it becomes available.
3. Exchange complete contact and insurance information with the other driver or drivers.
4. Take as many photos as possible of the accident scene and the damages to the vehicles. Be sure that you take photos that show the license plate numbers.
5. If there are eyewitnesses on the scene, try to get their contact information. If you have been injured, your attorney may need the statements or testimony of eyewitnesses.
You will need to remember all of this – you may even want to print this page and keep the hard copy in your vehicle – because there will be no attorney to advise you at an accident scene.
HOW CAN AN INJURY LAWYER HELP?
After you’ve had medical treatment, if you have been injured, your next priority – in the greater New Orleans area – is contacting an experienced personal injury attorney.
It will not cost you anything to learn more about your rights and legal options after you’ve been injured. Louisiana’s personal injury lawyers offer a free first consultation and case review to injury victims.
If you are injured by another person’s negligence in the state of Louisiana, you are entitled under the law to full compensation for all of your medical expenses, lost wages, personal pain and suffering, and all of your other accident-and-injury related losses and damages.
HOW SOON SHOULD YOU SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY?
However, you must act right away. Louisiana imposes a one-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits, and the “clock” begins the moment you are injured. If too much time passes after an accident, you will not be allowed to pursue compensation.
Do not let that happen. If you have been injured by a negligent driver in this state, put your case immediately in the hands of a qualified personal injury attorney.
Nothing is a higher priority than your health and your future. If you have been injured, let an accident lawyer fight for the compensation and for the justice you deserve. That is your right.