Who's Responsible When a Car Accident is Caused by Snow or Other Weather Conditions?

Unless the weather was immaculate at the time of a crash, it can be seen as a contributor to a car accident in Baltimore. And even when the weather was perfect at the time of the collision, there are other environmental factors--like the setting sun in a driver's eyes or a dark street--that can influence a crash. In fact, nearly all accidents involve some sort of exterior problem that made it slightly more difficult to drive a vehicle.

That does not mean that every crash was unavoidable or that every driver was blameless, though. Bad weather like snow or ice does not excuse poor driving habits or stand in for a driver's negligence. Poor conditions like these actually require drivers to be even more attentive on the roads and to exercise even greater caution. The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian know this and refuse to let another driver off the hook when they caused a crash that hurt you, even if they claim that the winter weather was really to blame.

How Car Accident Lawsuits Work

Car accident lawsuits are a kind of personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury claims are made by people who have been hurt by someone else's negligence and who want to get compensation for their losses.

In Maryland, personal injury claims have four components to them. The victim—known as the plaintiff, in the lawsuit—has to show the following.

  1. The person they are suing owed them a legal duty to keep them safe or out of harm's way.
  2. That person did not uphold this legal duty.
  3. This failure was the cause of the plaintiff's injuries.
  4. The plaintiff was, in fact, hurt in the accident.

A Driver's Legal Duty to Keep Others Safe

When someone gets behind the wheel of a car and drives anywhere in Maryland, they owe everyone else a legal duty to drive reasonably safely for the conditions they face on the roads. What constitutes “reasonable safe driving” in a particular circumstance can be difficult. However, there are some basic guidelines that clearly need to be followed, including the following.

  • Driving at a speed that is neither too slow nor too fast.
  • Obeying traffic laws.
  • Keeping a safe distance from the car in front.
  • Being attentive enough for potential hazards to avoid them before creating an accident.

Even in pristine driving conditions, determining whether someone was driving reasonably safely can be difficult. For example, if someone was going five miles per hour over the speed limit, but so was everyone else on the road, does that automatically make them unsafe? In many cases, it falls to the jury to decide whether a driver's conduct on the road was reasonably safe or not.

The Weather's Influence on a Driver's Legal Duty to Keep Others Safe

An important aspect of a driver's legal duty to keep others safe on the road is the fact that it changes when road conditions are different. A driver who goes the speed limit and stays two car lengths behind the car in front of them might be driving reasonably safely when the sun is shining, but when the roads are icy and snow is falling it probably will not be enough. Instead, the conditions the driver is facing in the ice and snow require them to slow down even more and increase their following distance.

As you can see, when the weather is bad and the driving conditions are poor, drivers are legally required to adapt in ways that ensure the safety of others on the road. When they fail to adopt driving techniques that are appropriate for the conditions they face, they can be held liable for the accidents they cause.

Poor Weather is Not a Scapegoat for Poor Driving

Therefore, whenever you get hurt in a car accident in Baltimore and the other driver claims that they could not be responsible for the crash because the weather was terrible, know that the weather does not automatically absolve them of their role in the crash. While the weather might have been horrible—with icy roads, heavy rain or snow that reduced visibility, and stiff gusts of wind that made it difficult to keep control of your car—all of the drivers facing those conditions have a legal responsibility to drive in a way that is reasonably safe for those very conditions. In that situation, if the other driver was driving the exact same way they would have if the conditions were perfect, then they were likely failing to uphold their responsibility to keep you out of harm's way.

Bad Weather Demands Better Driving

In the end, whenever a potentially negligent driver tries to blame the weather for their role in a car accident that hurt you, it is often a self-defeating attempt to avoid liability. Poor weather conditions actually require even better and safer driving techniques than what would have been needed, had the weather been nice.

Personal Injury Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian

The car accident and personal injury attorneys at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian are used to other drivers claiming that it was the weather's fault for the crash rather than their own. Little do these drivers know that our attorneys can turn these claims back against them and convince a jury that these terrible conditions required the driver to behave even more safely than normal.

Using these litigation tactics, our lawyers can fight for your rights and interests both inside the courtroom with the jury and outside of it with insurance companies. With our help, you can rest assured that everything will be done to ensure you get the compensation that you need and deserve after the crash that hurt you. Contact us online if you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident in Baltimore and the other driver is trying to blame the weather.

Let Us Help

If someone you are close to has been seriously injured or worse, you are naturally devastated not only by what has happened, but by the effect that the injury or loss has had on you and your family. At a time when you're vulnerable, traumatized and emotionally exhausted, you need a team that will support you through the often complex process that lies ahead.

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