The weather plays a significant role in car accidents. While those living in the northeastern United States enjoy four distinct seasons each year, they also must manage the driving challenges that come with them.
If you have been injured in a car accident during adverse weather, you should know that there could be causes other than or in addition to the weather. You may be able to hold someone liable for your injuries or other damages.
Almost any type of weather can affect a person’s driving and cause an accident. That is why adverse weather ranks in the top 10 causes of traffic accidents. It can hamper visibility and wreak havoc on roadways. The following are examples of how weather can contribute to a car accident.
Philadelphians are no strangers to the snow. Still, many drivers get in accidents every year in the winter. Sometimes, these accidents are caused by a reckless driver who does not slow down when it begins to snow or when roads are covered in ice. They may slide or spin out, causing an accident involving other motorists.
Other times, a municipality or state has not pretreated, salted, or plowed the roads, making even the most careful driver susceptible to an accident. Snow can also obscure road markings. It may be difficult for drivers to stay in their lanes or recognize turning lanes. Heavy snow might also cover road signs that help drivers safely navigate their routes.
Ice can quickly form on a roadway surface. The worst is black ice, which is a thin layer of ice that coats a roadway but is not visible. Drivers may not slow down or use caution as they should, endangering themselves and motorists around them.
Even when a road looks clear, all it takes is one patch of ice for a driver to lose control of their vehicle. Road maintenance workers should treat icy roads just as they do snowy roads.
Sleet also may seem harmless but enough of it can cause the roadway to become slippery. Drivers should always slow down in sleet, even if they think it is not sticking to the roads. Slush is the accumulation of ice and sleet on the roadway and is particularly dangerous to navigate. Also, keep in mind that ramps and bridges will often freeze before roadways.
Most likely, you have driven in pounding rain that makes visibility extremely difficult, and it is a terrifying situation. Some drivers continue to operate at the speed limit or above during pouring rain, which can cause them to lose control of their vehicle.
In addition to reduced visibility, rain can make roads slick and cause ponding. Ponding occurs when heavy rain accumulates in the center or side of a roadway. A car traveling over this pooling can easily hydroplane, causing it to veer out of control, often into other lanes of traffic.
Thunderstorms may cause brief but heavy downpours along with dangerous lightning. Use your best judgment as to whether to keep driving or pull safely over to the side of the road.
Windy weather is often overlooked, but it can cause serious accidents. High or gusting winds can be challenging for any driver, especially those operating a larger vehicle, such as a pickup truck, SUV, or van. The taller and broader the vehicle, the more surface area the wind must blow against.
Wind is also tricky for people towing or hauling anything. It may blow whatever is being towed. Motorists traveling on a multilane road with many large vehicles are also susceptible to a high-wind accident. A big gust can suddenly force a truck or trailer into another lane or cause a rollover truck accident.
High winds can also cause blowing debris, some of which could end up in the road or hit a moving vehicle.
Certain weather conditions can cause heavy fog, often in low-lying areas. Fog reduces visibility, often to just a few feet in front of you. A person diving behind you may not even see your vehicle until the last second before a rear-end accident. Heavy fog is often the cause of multi-vehicle accidents as well.
The glaring sun can also be dangerous. Depending on the time of day, the sun can be right in a driver’s eyes, where even the sun visor will not help. Sometimes, the sun will hit the side of the car, nearly blinding the driver who must check for traffic before switching lanes.
When the temperature and wind chill are below freezing, a vehicle may not run as efficiently, especially the battery. A disabled vehicle’s driver is subject to frostbite and other dangerous health conditions if they spin out and must wait for a tow truck.
Many different types of car accidents can happen in poor weather, such as:
Many weather-related car accidents are preventable. The following tips can help motorists stay safe when the weather is dangerous:
Many people believe that they are out of luck if they are in a car accident due to weather, but this is not true. There may be other parties liable for your accident.
Did another motorist outright crash into your vehicle? Weather-related accidents can be complex. If a motorist drives too fast for conditions or otherwise recklessly, they can often be found liable for your injuries and damages too.
Remember, an at-fault motorist could have been drinking, on drugs, distracted, or drowsy as well. They may have run a stop sign or traffic signal. They may not have brushed the snow and ice from their car. Weather is often not the only cause when another motorist is involved.
A municipality, county, or state is responsible for maintaining the roads under their jurisdiction. Poor road maintenance can cause more vehicle accidents in bad weather. Potholes, crumbly asphalt, missing guardrails, inadequate signage, lack of traffic signals or stop signs, and unmarked construction zones can be the cause of collisions.
You may have been operating a defective vehicle. Perhaps the tires or steering or braking system failed in the bad weather. A manufacturer could be held liable. You could potentially recover compensation from a car manufacturer.
If you have been hurt in a weather-related car accident, you should know that you may have legal options. One of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP can review your case. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our online form to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg and Allentown, from our offices in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania.