It's not just a Milli Vanilli song, but a good question that comes up in some car accident cases. From time to time, Bellingham and Whatcom County get hit with a fine layer of ice that covers everything – including roads. And of course no one can deny that we get a fair share of wet roads from rain. Even a sunny day can result in weather conditions, like glare, that can make driving more dangerous.
If a collision happens during these and other kinds of hazardous weather conditions, who is at fault? Is it the negligent driver, or the weather conditions? It is Washington State law that drivers must slow down during adverse weather conditions.
To have a valid personal injury claim from a car accident, there’s got to be evidence of negligence. Negligence means the failure to take proper care in doing something. Every time drivers get out on the roads, there’s an agreement that we will all do what we can possibly do to maintain safety for all concerned. It’s easy to find negligence if someone chooses to drive while drunk – driving drunk is proven to be unsafe and is therefore negligent behavior no matter what other factors are present in a car accident. However, if the driver who hit you on an icy or foggy day can reasonably say that the weather was the cause of the accident, that may throw a cog in your ability to hold this driver accountable, or liable, in a civil lawsuit. But, if the other driver was driving in a reckless or unreasonable manner, then your case strengthens. If he or she is speeding on a foggy night, or following too closely on an icy road, those kinds of things are dangerous in any conditions, and exacerbated by inclement weather.
There are calculations that help estimate negligence and its associated financial responsibility. There can be percent share in negligence, for example, with one driver being 75% at fault and other drivers or even the victim assigned the remainder of fault. This is where it helps to have an experienced attorney on your side through these kinds of negotiations that can make or break a fair claim.
This post is simply meant to answer some general questions about negligence and poor weather conditions for drivers. If you have a case and think that weather was a factor, or simply that the other driver was at fault even on the clearest of days, please give us a call at our Bellingham office, (360) 392-2833. We’re here to help you by offering a free consultation to listen to the facts about your case.