Rain is a factor in tens of thousands of car crashes every year that result in injuries and some deaths. Rain makes the roads slicker, impairs visibility and generally makes it more difficult to operate a car safely.
While rain can be a factor in a car crash, it cannot be held liable for damages caused by the crash. One or both drivers may be found liable for the crash. Although rain makes driving more dangerous, drivers are legal obligated to account for this by slowing down, leaving more distance between their vehicle and the one in front, turning on their headlights, and taking other steps as appropriate.
Our licensed attorneys discuss fault for an accident during heavy rainfall and how rain can factor in. For example, rain makes speeding even more dangerous because it may take longer for vehicles to slow down and stop. While the rain factored into the collision, it was ultimately the speeding driver’s negligence that led to the crash.
How Rain Makes Driving More Dangerous
Drivers need to be extra cautious in the rain, and not just because it makes it more difficult to drive their cars safely. You cannot count on other drivers to use extra caution when it starts raining. They may not turn on their headlights or slow down to account for the rain.
You also have no idea about how they have kept up with maintenance of their cars. Maybe they need to get their windshield wipers replaced but failed to do so, and the windshield wipers are not clearing off the windshield as well as they should. Most people do not check their tire pressure on a regular basis or get their tires replaced when the treads are really worn down.
Considering how careless other drivers may be, it is important that you be extra careful in the rain. Slow down and keep your distance between your car and the one in front of you. (You should keep about three seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you in good weather, but this should increase in bad weather.)
Make sure to turn on your headlights – under state law you are required to turn on your headlights when using your windshield wipers. Keep your eyes on the road and make sure your windshield wipers are moving fast enough to allow you to see as clearly as possible.
Give yourself more time to stop because if you try to stop too quickly your tires could slide over the road and you could lose control. If you notice a lot of puddles on one side of the road, try to switch lanes to get away from the puddles. If that is not possible, slow down to avoid spraying around too much water because it obstructs the visibility of other drivers, which may make an accident more likely to happen.
If you can, stay off the road when it is raining, particularly if you know your tires need to be replaced.
Assessing Liability for a Crash in the Rain
Driver negligence is often magnified in bad weather, as it is harder to correct mistakes or reckless behaviors. At-fault drivers cannot blame the rain to escape financial liability for the victim’s damages. If an at-fault driver says it was harder to slow down or his or her visibility was impaired, it was on him or her to be extra cautious to avoid a crash.
Drivers also cannot blame the rain when they did a poor job of maintaining their vehicle, such as replacing worn down tires or ensuring their tires were properly inflated. These failures are dangerous even in good weather. This is a form of negligence because it is reasonable to expect drivers to keep their cars in safe operating condition.
Fault for a crash in the rain will be assessed in much the same way it would be assessed for a crash in non-rainy weather. The central issue is still negligence, which usually involves some violation of traffic laws or some form of reckless driving.
Under state traffic law, drivers must not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, and they must consider the speed of other vehicles, traffic and the condition of the highway. That may mean drivers need to be aware of the rain and take appropriate precautions.
Unsure of Your Options After a Crash? Call Schmidt Kramer
For more than three decades, the experienced Harrisburg car crash lawyers at Schmidt Kramer have been helping those injured by driver negligence. We have secured compensation for victims of a wide variety of motor vehicle crashes and are ready to do the same for you, if we can validate your claim.
Schedule a free consultation today so we can discuss your accident and you can learn how we may be able to assist you. At our firm, there are no upfront fees and no fees while we work on your case. That means there is no financial risk with our services.
Give us a call today. We are here to help. Ph: (717) 727-1403.