Injured in a car accident during the heavy rains?
The recent wave of rainstorms has made a dent in California’s 6-year drought. It has also made dents in people’s cars and to the people inside the cars.
Police departments across Southern California report that thousands of vehicles have run into problems caused by the torrents of rain and snow in the region. Cars have collided head-on, been run off the road, and crashed into railings, signs, trees, and parked vehicles.
Some of these accidents involve multiple cars. Some are single-vehicle accidents. All place a special burden on the injured party – proving that negligence, and not just raindrops, led to the accident and injury.
Establishing negligence in an accident in which bad weather was a factor can be a challenge. It is easy for insurance companies to dismiss your injuries as an “act of God” – insurance language for “Tough luck, fella.”
Let’s say you are driving through heavy rain, and are sideswiped by an oncoming car. You go into the ditch and strike your head against the dash. Your medical bills and time lost from work exceed $30,000. How can this accident involve negligence?
It can, if you can show that:
- The other driver was driving at an unreasonable speed, given conditions.
- The other driver did not slow down on a curve.
- The other driver was going downhill in a downpour and did not reduce speed.
- The other driver had his wipers set to low, or the headlights to dim.
- The other driver was drunk, or asleep, or fiddling with the radio dial – istracted driving.
- The other driver’s car was poorly maintained – zero tread, worn brakes, burned out headlamp.
- Your own mechanic or service center sent you out with a bad tire.
- Local government knew for some time that a road was washed out, but did not post warnings.
The rule is a simple one: Other parties are obliged to show a reasonable degree of care for the safety of others on the road. That includes car drivers, motorcyclists, bicycles and pedestrians.
Drivers must maintain control of their vehicles, or they should pull over and not endanger others. Failure to show this elemental courtesy constitutes negligence all by itself.
Drivers are not entitled to drive at the maximum posted speed. It is their responsibility to show a little sense, and a decent respect for others, and slow down.
Accidents involving bad weather are not easy cases to prove. If you have suffered a serious injury during the past month of heavy storms, choose a law firm that can handle the complexities and ambiguities arising from these situations.