Can You Blame the Weather for a Car Accident?
In Indiana, we have varying weather all year long. We can have multiple feet of snow throughout the winters, thunderstorms in the summer or spring months, fog throughout the year, and more. What role does weather play in car accidents? Does it change the liability of the other drivers involved?
This article will discuss that and more and help you determine if you may have a realistic chance at recovering damages or needing to pay them following a car accident.
What is Modified Comparative Fault?
Indiana has a rule for comparing fault in relation to damages awarded following an accident. In Indiana, if multiple parties are involved, each party will be assigned a percentage of fault based on the evidence provided. If the injured party is more than 51% at fault for the accident, they are typically unable to pursue damages.
An injured party that is deemed less than 51% at fault will have their portion of their damages reduced by the amount of fault they were assigned. For example, if you were found to be 20% at fault for the accident occurring and your total damages were $100,000, your portion would be reduced by 20%, making the full damages you are eligible for $80,000.
How Do Safe-Driving Requirements Change During Inclement Weather?
A person is liable for an auto accident if that person was at least 51% at fault and that fault was a cause of the accident. “Fault” includes negligence. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care under the circumstances. For example, it is reasonable care (and therefore not negligent) to drive the speed limit on a relatively straight, dry, state highway. However, it is also probably negligent (and therefore at fault) to drive the speed limit when that same state highway is covered with snow and ice.
There are many things that drivers can do to ensure that they and those around them are safe on the roads. Some of the most common examples are listed below;
Slow down – speed limits are set up to protect our safety when the road conditions are clear. If there is ice, snow, or heavy rain, the operator must slow down and leave more room between vehicles to stop or turn.
Maintain tires – if you are driving in snow or ice, navigating with even the best tires can be challenging. If your tires are worn or lack tread, it can be harder to slow down, brake, change lanes, or more in inclement weather.
Windshield wipers – similar to tires being well-maintained, if you have windshield wipers that aren’t working correctly, it can cause interference in your ability to see, and you could cause accidents as a result.
Leave extra room – not only as you are driving and other parties are ahead or behind you but also with emergency vehicles or snow plows that may be trying to clear the road. It may be difficult for you to slow down or stop in icy conditions, but it is the same for them. It’s also important to remember that snowplows or other large trucks will have much more weight on them and will need increased distances to stop, even on dry roads.
Why Are Added Safety Precautions Important?
As discussed above with comparative fault, if it is found that although you were driving the speed limit, but there was ice and snow on the roads, and you lost control of your vehicle, as a result, you may be found partially at fault for the accident.
Legal negligence refers to the notion that all parties involved have a duty to use reasonable care to the others involved regarding their safety. If any of the parties are found to have breached their duty, they will be assigned fault accordingly.
Suppose you are not negligent by following all traffic laws and rules but are found to be negligent due to not allowing extra precautions during a snow or wind storm. In that case, you may be found liable for a portion of the accident, and, therefore, the damages you can recover are reduced or eliminated, or you may be required to pay the other party compensation.
What Types of Damages May I Be Eligible For?
In Indiana, you can typically pursue economic and non-economic damages;
Economic damages – damages that are tangible, and can be proved by references to records such as medical bills, related therapy or prescriptions, the costs to repair your vehicle, calculated lost wages while you were tending to your injuries and more.
Non-economic damages are more challenging to calculate as they are typically intangible, such as pain and suffering, such as physical pain, disfigurement, emotional harm, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and more.
It is important to note that some states have a cap on the amount of damages you can pursue. Indiana does not have this cap unless you are bringing a case against the state, or where a statute imposes a cap in a specific kind of case, in which case there is a limit.
Punitive damages are far less common but can occur if the accused party was proven to have acted especially negligently or intentionally caused an accident. Punitive damages are meant to punish the behavior and also deter others from considering doing the same. Your experienced team of attorneys can provide you with a realistic expectation of what you may expect in damages.
Experience That Speaks For Itself
With a combination of more than seven decades of experience, our team is ready and capable of assisting you and your family. We fight tirelessly for our clients, whether negotiating with insurance companies to ensure you get the compensation you deserve or representing you in court.
Call our office today at (812) 247-8416 to schedule an appointment to speak with our team. We look forward to serving our clients and providing them peace of mind so they can promptly and effectively continue with the next chapter in their lives.