How Severe Weather Can Influence Personal Injury Cases
Author: Auger Law | October 9th, 2020
Bad weather can make an accident more likely, but it’s a particular problem when other drivers are being negligent. If you’ve been hurt in a car accident involving severe weather, chances are that someone’s poor driving decisions are largely to blame. Even still, the presence of weather-related factors can complicate an injury claim.
Those who have been hurt in an accident where severe weather was involved should know how environmentally-related road factors could affect their case. They can use the information below to guide their understanding generally, but they should reach out to an experienced car accident injury law firm for guidance specific to their case.
Any time you’re hurt in a collision, Auger & Auger can be here for you. Our car accident attorneys have represented injury victims in the Carolinas for over 26 years. You can schedule a free, no-obligation case review when you call (800) 559-5741 or contact us online today.
Severe Weather Often a Factor in Fatal Crashes, But Rarely a “Critical Reason”, Says NHTSA
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has compiled data on crash causations in several major reports.
One of the most important of these reports details crash causation data from 2005 – 2007. NHTSA’s “Critical Reasons for Crashes” report revealed that a full 94% of accidents can be attributed to driver-related factors.
The most common driver-related factors were recognition errors (41% of all driver-caused accidents) and decision errors (33%). Combined, those two factors were the dominant critical reason for a crash in over 1.5 million cases. By comparison, just 52,000 cases — or 2% of the total — had the environment listed as the predominant reason for the crash.
Based on this data, human inattention and poor decision-making are much more likely to be the main cause of a collision than any weather-related element. In any case, where the cause of your accident was unclear, the conclusions drawn by this report should encourage you to look into whether other drivers’ negligence was more to blame than the weather.
Weather as a Contributing Factor to a Negligence-Caused Collision
A separate NHTSA report, based upon 2007 to 2016 data, did find that the presence of severe weather had a strong role in contributing to the entirety of crash circumstances in many cases.
Rain and wet pavement were the most common factors present at the moment of the studied crashes. Rain was a factor in 10% of all crashes and 10% of injury crashes as well as 8% of fatal crashes. Wet pavement was a factor in 15% of all crashes, 15% of injury crashes, and 12% of fatal crashes. By itself, wet pavement accounted for 78% of all weather-related crash injuries, according to the study.
While this information may seem to contradict the above study, the key difference to hone in on is that the latter study was not concerned with the “critical reason” of a crash but rather whether or not a certain factor was present. So, to put it another way, the weather is rarely the main reason for an accident, but it is a common contributing factor.
Making matters more interesting, weather-related accidents had a disproportionately low co-occurrence of common factors like alcohol use, drug use, restraint use, or speeding, according to a separate study that analyzed data from 1994 – 2012.
So, what does this mean to the average car accident injury victim? It’s very likely that if severe weather was present at the time of their accident, then the defending driver will try to attribute some or all of their fault to the weather. It then becomes the injury victim’s job to demonstrate how the defendant’s negligence contributed to the accident, whether it was the main causal factor, and if the accident was likely to occur despite the presence of severe weather.
Proving Negligence Despite Severe Weather With Help From a Car Accident Attorney
Dissecting the actual causes of a wreck can be very technical. Experienced accident reconstructionists are needed, as are attorneys familiar with how complicating factors impact a personal injury claim. Proving that another driver’s negligence played a larger role in a crash than the weather can be tough, but experienced attorneys will know what evidence and arguments can sway both insurance adjusters and juries.
If you’ve been hurt in an accident during bad weather, you may feel like your back is up against the wall when it comes to proving the accident wasn’t your fault or the weather’s fault. Hiring your own personal injury lawyer gives you the knowledge, resources, and access to subject matter experts your case may need.
Learn more about how a car accident lawyer from Auger & Auger could help you when you call (800) 559-5741 or contact us online to schedule your free case review today.