When inclement weather strikes in Pennsylvania, it makes driving much more difficult, and accidents far more likely. Proving another driver’s liability is hard enough. It’s even more difficult when inclement weather is involved. You can count on the experienced personal injury attorneys of Cooper Schall & Levy to fight for your rights after an accident.
The Risks Of Driving In Inclement Weather
When the weather is bad, drivers are confronted with these hazards:
- Decreased visibility due to rain, snow and fog
- Reduced tire traction
- Slick roads due to rain, ice and sleet
- Storm debris on the road
- More time required to slow down and stop
These problems are even more pronounced in high traffic situations, at night, and on poorly maintained roads. Drivers often don’t appreciate the dangers that even a little bad weather can pose. For instance, rain can mix with oil to make the roads slick. On the other hand, many drivers overestimate their ability to safely navigate the conditions. This spells trouble for them and other motorists.
What Is A Driver’s Responsibility When The Weather Is Bad?
Every driver owes a duty of reasonable care to other motorists on the road. That generally means careful operation of the vehicle, obeying traffic laws, not driving a vehicle that isn’t safe, and so forth. Inclement weather does not change this responsibility. In order to meet their duty of reasonable care, motorists in bad weather have to adjust their behavior in light of the conditions. That means taking such steps as:
- Clearing any ice or snow from the windows
- Operating the windshield wipers
- Replacing worn tires and worn wipers
- Using your headlights and signals
- Using low-beam headlights in fog
- Decreasing speed
- Stopping sooner for backed up traffic, signals, etc.
- Avoiding swerves and sudden turns
Generally speaking, the worse the weather is, the more careful every driver should be. In fact, someone who drives during bad weather as if it’s sunny and clear outside could be considered negligent.
Of course, even the safest drivers can get into accidents during inclement weather. The question then becomes how to prove that an accident was due to negligence rather than conditions outside of the driver’s control.
Proving Negligence In Inclement Weather Accidents
Simply put, proving a driver was negligent during a bad weather accident is more challenging. There are generally fewer witnesses because of decreased visibility and most drivers’ focus on staying safe. The at-fault driver will almost certainly blame the accident on the weather and will claim that he or she was being as safe as they could. You can count on the insurance company trying to deny your claim as well, arguing the weather caused the accident.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to prove the other driver was being negligent. The first thing you should do, other than obtaining the medical attention that you or your passengers need, is to make a police report. If there are witnesses, get their contact information including names, phone numbers, and what they saw. You should also write down as many details as you can remember about the car accident.
Get the other driver’s information, including the license plate number. If it is safe to do so, take pictures and video of the scene of the accident. You and the other driver may need to move your cars to safety, but capture as much as you can. If the other car’s tires are bald or there is some other evidence of poor vehicle maintenance, try to get a picture of this too.
Any other information about the wreck or the driver will prove useful. Remember, you will be one of the only individuals this close to the accident, and evidence can be lost once the scene is cleaned up. If the other driver is drunk, had his headlights off, or admits responsibility, try to record these facts. Regardless, do not admit fault or suggest you were in any way to blame. Speak to a knowledgeable attorney before talking with the insurance company.
The Role Of Your Attorney
Every automobile accident turns heavily on the facts, and bad weather adds an element of uncertainty to the mix. An accident victim must prove not only negligent or reckless behavior, but that such behavior caused the victim’s injuries. The victim also has to determine the extent of his or her injuries and predict what sort of future treatment may be needed.
In serious accidents, the victim may need to demonstrate how much money was lost from work because of hospitalization and treatment. Catastrophic accident victims often lose the ability to work at the same level of productivity as before the accident, and those damages also need to be quantified.
An experienced accident attorney understands not only the law and its relation to the facts, but how to prove the degree of damages it will take to make the victim whole. Often this requires the use of discovery methods and expert witnesses, while carefully adhering to the rules of civil procedure and rules of evidence.
Contact Our Philadelphia Inclement Weather Accident Attorney Today
Don’t risk taking on the insurance company by yourself. Give Cooper Schall & Levy a call first. We will discuss your legal rights and demand the compensation to which you are entitled. Schedule your consultation today.
Cooper Schall & Levy personal injury lawyers serve Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well as neighboring counties such as Montgomery County and Delaware County and cover neighborhoods such as Norristown and Drexel Hill.