The weather is definitely not something we can control, so we often cannot control what happens in severe weather conditions.
But, according to police investigators, insurers, and courts, lack of control is not a given in all weather-related car accidents. Many times, one party could have done more to prevent an accident. Other times, a party’s behaviors greatly contributed to the cause or severity of an accident, even if weather played a large part.
These nuances make deciding where the fault lies in a severe weather accident far from a cut and dry matter. People injured in accidents that weren’t their fault must often hire a car accident attorney to help them examine the facts of their weather-related accident and present them in a way that establishes clear fault.
Why It Could Still Be Your Fault
Many people injured in severe weather auto accidents think they can point to the obviousness of the dangerous conditions at the time. The roads may have been slippery, for instance, if runoff and mud got in the way of traction between tire treads and asphalt.
However, courts may feel that this same obviousness should have prompted a change in driving behaviors to respond to the conditions. When establishing this type of driver negligence, they always ask questions like “Was the hazard obvious enough to avoid or cause the driver to completely slow down?” or “Should the driver have known an appropriate technique to respond to the hazard?”
Looking at the second question: in many severe weather situations, the ability to reduce the risk of a hazard involves great skill. For instance, in a hydroplane or skid, drivers should ideally steer into the turn to regain control. But, if they respond instinctively by steering against a turn, which causes a worse skid, their driving may still not be considered negligent given the difficulty of correcting a skid in general.
The Car Accident Attorney “Reasonable Person Test”
Many car accident injury claims and allegations of fault come down to whether or not the supposed at-fault party behaved negligently. A simple, but not airtight, test of negligence is to consider whether a theoretical “reasonably competent person” of average intelligence would have made the same or similar decisions.
Anyone who fails to react as a reasonable person would, such as someone who still drives the speed limit despite flash flooding on the roads, could be considered to have acted negligently even if they broke no laws.
So, as stated earlier, proving fault is a matter of examining the actions of each driver and deciding if their actions were a contributing factor to the accident or if the weather put circumstances completely outside of their control. Insurers may also use this test when deciding whether to pay out liability claims.
If you have been involved in a collision that happened during severe weather, consider seeking representation from an Odessa car accident attorney who can help you examine and establish fault. You can dial the number above or use the convenient contact form to the right to receive a free case review and potentially start your claim today.