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Is a Driver At Fault for an Accident Caused When Their Car Hydroplanes?

Posted on in Car Accidents

Waukegan Hydroplane Car Accident Lawyer

Summer thunderstorms can be dangerous, and not just because of the risk of being hit by lightning. Heavy rainfall can result in reduced visibility, slippery pavement, standing water, an/or driver fatigue on Lake County roadways. Not surprisingly, storms generally cause the number of car accidents to rise. According to the US Department of Transportation, one in seven motor vehicle accidents and injuries can be traced to wet pavement. 

Who Is At-Fault in a Weather-Related Accident?

In order to claim compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident, you have to determine which driver was at fault and prove that their negligent behavior caused the accident. 

For example, if you rear-end the car in front of you on the road on a clear-weather day because you were looking at your phone or got drowsy and were not paying enough attention to the surrounding traffic, you will generally be deemed at fault. 

However, if your car had a manufacturing or design defect, the carmaker might be the one at fault. 

Now, what about weather-related car accidents? 

Suppose you are driving along and you encounter standing water on the road. Your car hydroplanes, you lose control, and crash into another vehicle. Can you claim that the standing water was an “act of God” and therefore you should not be held legally responsible for injuries to others that occurred in the crash? 

Is a Bad-Weather Accident An “Act of God” for Which You Are Not Liable?

In general, it is a driver’s responsibility to be aware of driving conditions and adjust their driving behavior accordingly. When driving through a heavy rainstorm, or just after, drivers are expected to anticipate issues such as reduced visibility, slick pavement, and the possibility of flooded sections of roadway. In response, drivers should slow down and try to keep more distance between their car and other vehicles. Drivers are responsible for maintaining control of their vehicle and taking all reasonable measures to avoid collisions. 

Suppose that, at the time you hit that standing water, you were driving well over the speed limit and tailgating the car in front of you. Suppose further that the accident occurred near your home, you knew that it had been raining heavily for some time, and you knew that areas of that road were prone to standing water. Accident investigators may well decide that you were 100 percent at fault for the resulting crash, concluding that you should have anticipated the problems on the road and were negligent in your responsibility to adjust your driving for conditions.

However, if you took every reasonable precaution, you may be able to argue that you were not negligent at all. You may even be able to argue that the other driver was at fault, perhaps because they changed lanes suddenly without signaling, had burnt out taillights, or were negligent in some other fashion. 

As you can see, determining fault in a weather-related accident can be complicated by multiple factors. When serious injuries occur, accident investigators will devote considerable time and resources to apportion fault. Investigators will interview everyone, study the data from the car’s “black box” event recorder, evaluate how heavy the traffic was, and examine the vehicles and the road itself. 

If you are injured in such an accident, you can file a claim for damages against the at-fault driver and their insurance company. These cases are most often settled out of court, although a small percentage of cases go to trial when the circumstances of the incident are in dispute. The key to winning your case, however, will be proving that someone other than yourself was primarily at fault in causing the accident.

Speak to an Aggressive Waukegan Car Accident Attorney

Car accidents involving heavy rain or flooding roads can result in serious physical and emotional injuries. Before settling an accident claim, speak to a knowledgeable Lake County car accident lawyer who focuses their skill and energy on such cases. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer at Salvi & Maher, L.L.C., call 847-662-3303.

Sources:

https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/weather/q1_roadimpact.htm

 

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