Stockton may provide a beautiful slice of California life for its residents, but it can experience inclement weather much like anywhere else. When you are commuting to work, shuttling the kids to school, running errands, or heading out to enjoy the area, it is possible for unpleasant weather to pop up and create dangerous driving conditions.
When bad weather causes an accident, you may wonder who is liable for the damages. No matter what the weather is like, it is still up to every driver to operate their vehicles safely. This means adjusting your driving technique for the current conditions on the road, whatever they may be.
Every driver on the road owes others a duty of care by making safe choices. Unfortunately, even if you are cautious when wild weather pops up, you may wind up in an accident with someone who neglected to uphold their duty of care. This may mean that they are liable for the accident if they caused it, regardless of what the weather was like at the time.
How Does Weather Impact Driving?
Weather can make it more challenging for you to drive safely.
Creating Vision Problems
Heavy rains, fog, or even snow flurries can make it hard to see what is ahead. Windshield wipers may be no help when sheets of rain are pouring down. The lines on the road may not be easy to see. When vision is hindered, it can lead to crashes.
Impacts on Vehicle Performance
If flooding is a concern, every driver should turn back and avoid driving in the high water. It can lead to mechanical problems that can later cause your vehicle to fail, even when these conditions have cleared.
Lack of Pavement Friction
Your tires have traction to help keep your vehicle from sliding all over the road. If the roads are wet, you must slow down and take extra steps to ensure you maintain control.
Other Road Conditions
Plenty of issues arise when the weather turns bad. Traffic slows down to a crawl, which is ideal for protecting other drivers — but it may make some people act out and drive more aggressively. Additionally, if there is high wind, debris can blow onto the road. Some weather events may cause temporary power outages, turning traffic lights off.
These conditions can contribute to causing an accident, though ultimately, every driver is responsible for driving safely.
Who Is Liable When Bad Weather Contributes to the Cause of an Accident?
The liable driver is the one who caused the accident, and the weather is not a valid excuse to shirk their responsibilities. Since each driver must uphold a duty of care, an investigation can determine who was at fault. Perhaps they were breaking the law or they failed to be cautious when heavy rains limited their visibility.
It can be even more difficult to determine who is to blame when multiple vehicles are involved. It takes evidence like photos, videos, witness testimonies, and accident reconstruction to determine liability. Since car accidents that take place during inclement weather can quickly get complicated, it is ideal that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Safe Driving Tips for Handling Adverse Weather
The best course of action when the weather takes a turn while you are behind the wheel is to follow safe driving practices. Wet or icy roads make it harder to stop, which means you must allow plenty of space and time to slow down and stop safely.
Being aware of your surroundings is imperative, too. You may be on a city street or in a neighborhood when the weather turns on you, making it harder to see bicyclists or pedestrians.
Keep in mind that speed limits are in place for normal driving conditions. If there is heavy rain, you will likely need to drive below the posted speed limit to stay safe.
What to Do If You Are in a Car Accident During Inclement Weather
California is a fault-based insurance state, meaning that the person who caused the accident is responsible for paying the damages. This state also follows a pure comparative negligence model, which means your compensation could be reduced if you are assigned some percentage of the blame.
While California does allow injured parties to collect damages even when they are 99% at fault for a crash, you do not want to have your payout reduced if you did nothing wrong. Because of these factors, you should contact a car accident lawyer in Stockton to discuss the best course of action in your situation.