Can weather conditions be blamed for my crash?
It may be called the Sunshine State, but inclement weather conditions are common in Florida. We see torrential rainstorms, hurricane-force winds and thick fog. Sometimes, severe weather can take Florida drivers by surprise.
If you were involved in a crash during unfavorable driving conditions, you may not be sure who was at fault. The experienced Florida car accident attorneys at Pajcic & Pajcic explain how weather can cause bad road conditions and how you can recover damages.
How weather conditions impact driving
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHA), the following types of weather conditions relative to Florida can impact driving:
- Wind speed — Affects vehicle stability and makes it difficult for drivers to stay in their lanes.
- Precipitation — Precipitation such as rain and hail can affect vehicle traction and limit visibility.
- Fog — Limits visibility.
According to the FHA, the weather and road conditions that contributed to the most crashes over a 10-year period include:
- Wet pavement — 70% of weather-related crashes, 78% of injuries, and 76% of fatalities.
- Rain — 46% of weather-related crashes, 51% of injuries, and 46% of fatalities.
- Fog — 3% of weather-related crashes, 3% of injuries, and 9% of fatalities.
- Winter conditions — 18% during snow or sleet, 13% occur on icy pavement and 16% of weather-related crashes take place on snowy or slushy pavement.
Of course, winter conditions are rarely a concern here in Florida, but rain and wet pavement are common. And while fog is only a factor in a small percentage of crashes overall, the crashes it does cause can be devastating, especially when they involve large vehicles like trucks.
Can weather conditions be blamed for a crash?
Florida is a "no-fault" insurance state, which means anyone involved in a crash who has personal injury protection (PIP) coverage (which is required for all Florida drivers) can recover damages from their own insurance companies. However, PIP coverage is typically only sufficient for minor crashes with damages at or below the policy limit. In cases involving severe crashes, you must prove that the other driver's negligence caused your crash.
In most cases, the weather alone simply cannot be blamed for a crash. Drivers have a duty to avoid crashes by reducing their speed, using caution, and staying attentive. If the driver who caused your crash was speeding or driving distracted during a heavy rain storm or foggy conditions, then your crash was the result of negligence, not bad weather.
Some weather-related crashes are also the result of a defect in the vehicle itself that made it unsafe under certain circumstances. For example, some types of trucks may not have sufficient reflective tape or lighting to warn drivers of their presence in low-visibility conditions, leaving motorists in darkness or fog with no time to react. In those circumstances, the manufacturer or trucking company may be held responsible. Poor tire tread or bald tires often reduce traction, which is dangerous when the roads are wet and slick.
How does the weather affect my car accident case?
The weather conditions at the time of your crash will be documented on the official police accident report. The other driver's insurance company will obtain a copy of the report. Insurance companies often argue that the weather was the main contributor in a crash. This is one of the many tricks they use to shift the blame away from the at-fault driver and pay crash victims as little as possible. As your advocate, our job is to prove that negligence, not nature, was the cause of your injuries.
We look for evidence that the driver who hit you was speeding, distracted, asleep at the wheel or otherwise acting in an unsafe manner. For instance, one Pajcic client won a $1.9 million verdict after she was hit by a dump truck that was speeding through fog, causing a brain injury and multiple fractures. The dump truck driver obviously was not responsible for the fog itself, but he was still held accountable for the reckless way he operated his vehicle under the conditions.
Contact an experienced Florida attorney for help with your car accident case
The attorneys at Pajcic & Pajcic have represented injured motorists throughout Florida for more than 45 years. We have helped thousands of crash victims and families maximize their compensation in some of the most complex cases. To get started on your claim, contact us online or call us for a free case evaluation. We serve clients all over Florida.