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  • Weather-Related Car Accidents

    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. Weather related car accidents is a real problem.

    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, Sleet, Slush

    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.

    weather related car accidents

    Rain and Thunderstorms

    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.

    High Winds

    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.

    Temperature and Wind Chill

    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.

    What Types of Accidents Happen in Inclement Weather Conditions?

    Many different types of car accidents can happen in poor weather, such as:

    • Spin-out accidents: A car that hits a patch of ice, slush, or sleet will almost always spin out and slide across the road or into the berm or shoulder. The vehicle becomes nearly impossible to control when that happens and braking quickly often makes it worse. The result is that anyone driving near the spinning vehicle is susceptible to being hit and will often generate additional accidents.
    • Hydroplane collisions: Hydroplaning is when a car hits a patch of standing water, and its tires lose traction. Hydroplaning causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle and end up in another lane or an accident with a car behind them in their lane.
    • Rear-end accidents: Fog, rain, and slick roads may make it difficult for a driver to see in front of them. They may not be able to stop in time when a traffic signal, stop sign, or stopped vehicle comes up quickly, plowing into the back of the car ahead of them.
    • Sideswipe accidents: When snow obscures lane markings, a car passing beside you either in the same or opposite direction can easily scrape along the side of your vehicle.
    • Head-on collisions: A driver on a slick road could veer out of their lane just as they are approaching an oncoming motorist. There is often no time for either driver to react and a serious car accident can happen.

    How Can I Drive Safely in Poor Weather?

    Many weather-related car accidents are preventable. The following tips can help motorists stay safe when the weather is dangerous:

    • Stay home. If possible, stay home when the weather is particularly poor. If you do not have to go out, then do not. Stay at home or the office until the roads or weather becomes better suited for travel.
    • Slow down. Speeding is dangerous on even the best of driving days. It gets worse when the roads or weather is inclement. Also, do not stop or start suddenly.
    • Equip your vehicle. All-wheel-drive, four-wheel drive, and snow tires can help drivers maintain their vehicles on snowy or slick roads. They are not fail-proof, so a driver must still use caution.
    • See and be seen. Use your snow brush, headlights, windshield wipers, and defroster to help you see better in adverse weather conditions. Brush all the snow from your vehicle, especially the headlights and brake lights, to help other motorists see you.
    • Do not use cruise control. If roads are slick or snowy, turn off the cruise control. You will need every bit of manual speed and steering control possible to maneuver difficult roads safely.
    • Maintain a safe distance. Stay well behind the car in front of you when driving conditions are not good. Doing so can ensure you have ample room to stop when needed.
    • Avoid distractions. Texting and other distractions are the top causes of accidents on even the best roads. When roads are bad, put the cellphone down and minimize all other distractions to concentrate on driving entirely.
    • Keep tires inflated. Properly inflated tires offer the best traction, which is critical on wet, icy, or snowy roads. Properly inflated tires can also help keep your car on the road in high winds.
    • Keep a firm grip on the wheel. In high winds or on slick roads, a firm grip on the wheel can help keep you on the road and in your lane.
    • Learn how to handle slides and skids. When you go into a slide, experts recommend you brake carefully. Remove your foot from the accelerator and ease it onto the brake pedal. Apply soft, even pressure to engage your anti-lock braking system to help tires maintain contact with the road. Steer away from the skid gently. Wildly turning the wheel will make your car spin more. Calmly correct your vehicle by steering slowly away from the skid.
    • Do not overcorrect. Strong winds or icy slides that move your car off the road or into a neighboring lane require steering correction. It is crucial not to overcorrect, which may cause the vehicle to go out of control or into a nearby motorist.
    • Watch for debris. Tree limbs, leaves, and debris from strong winds often end up in the roadways. Be extra cautious under these conditions.
    • Give other motorists a lot of room. When winds blow vehicles around or snow and ice cover the roads, be courteous to other drivers. Give them plenty of space as they too are trying to navigate bad weather and road conditions. Giving them room will also decrease your chance of getting hit if they spin out or rollover.
    • Pull over if the conditions are extreme. When rain blinds you, fog makes visibility impossible, or snow makes roads impassable, safely pull over. It is better to lose some time than cause an accident. Check into a hotel for the night if needed.
    • Use your car’s safety technology. Today’s cars have traction control, anti-lock braking systems, lane departure warnings, and other technology to help drivers stay safe. Make sure they are all engaged in both adverse and normal weather conditions.

    Who Is at Fault for a Weather-Related Car Accident?

    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.

    Negligent Motorist

    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.

    Road Owner or Maintenance Crew

    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.

    Auto Part Manufacturer

    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.

    driving in bad weather

    Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Can Help You Determine Who Caused Your Weather-Related Collision

    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.