Harsh weather can reduce visibility or make roads slippery, increasing the risk of a motor vehicle accident. But just because atmospheric conditions are beyond a driver’s control does not mean they are automatically exempted from liability for car accidents during bad weather.
Considering reasonable care
When determining liability in weather-related car accidents, authorities usually examine whether a driver exercised reasonable care. Reasonable care generally refers to the effort or attention a driver exercises to ensure their own and other people’s safety on the road.
For example, drivers usually know that heavy snowfall can make it harder to maneuver their vehicles. Therefore, they might drive more slowly in such weather conditions or increase the distance between their vehicle and other cars.
To understand whether a driver showed reasonable care, authorities might ask questions like the following.
- Did the driver know of the weather event beforehand, or did they encounter it suddenly?
- If they knew of the event in advance, did the driver employ appropriate precautionary measures?
- Did the driver drive in a way that one may reasonably expect, considering the weather conditions?
If the driver could have taken steps to prevent the accident or minimize its damage but did not, authorities would likely find them at fault.
Bad weather can make determining liability during a car accident trickier than usual. Understanding what the law says regarding the matter can help those involved in many ways, such as protecting their rights and ensuring the party responsible for the accident is held financially accountable for the expenses that result from the crash. These can include the cost of emergency care, medical treatment, property damage to the vehicle and missed wages if injuries made it difficult to return to work.