The Impact of Weather Conditions on Car Accident Liability in Pennsylvania

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While it’s often advisable to stay off of the road during bad weather conditions, there are times when it’s unavoidable. Car accidents that occur in poor weather follow the same general legal rules, although there are specific challenges when you file a legal claim. To learn more about the potential for financial compensation after a car accident, contact Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers.

Bad Weather Is Not an Excuse for a Driver’s Actions

Bad weather is not a sufficient excuse to avoid liability for an accident. A motorist is always responsible for exercising due care under the circumstances, including even staying off of the roads entirely when the weather conditions are poor. If a driver is out on the road, they assume legal responsibility for all of their actions, regardless of the weather conditions at the time.

The speed limit is the maximum allowable under the conditions; however, there are times when it could be considered negligence when a driver is going at the speed limit. For example, if a motorist is on the road when there are icy conditions, they would be expected to slow down to avoid slipping on the ice. The same applies when there is a heavy rainstorm. Drivers must exercise extra caution, which can involve slowing down under the circumstances.

Adverse Weather Can Make It Harder To Determine Fault

Weather conditions may make it more difficult for the insurance companies to determine which driver was to blame for an accident. Under more ideal weather conditions, one driver’s actions could be far more egregious. For example, they may have been speeding, which could be a clear indicator of fault. In poor weather conditions, both drivers may have been struggling at the time of the accident, making it more difficult to tell which one may have done something wrong.

Nonetheless, challenging weather conditions do not serve to allow the insurance companies to forego their obligation to make an appropriate fault determination. They must carefully consider the actions of both drivers in the accident and correctly apportion liability. If the insurance companies do not decide in your favor, you can file a lawsuit against the responsible driver in court, and the jury can decide the matter.

Bad Weather Could Lead to You Being Partially Blamed

The responsibility to take extra care in adverse weather conditions is a double-edged sword.

Even if the policyholder was generally at fault for the accident, the insurance company will also scrutinize whether you were exercising due care yourself. It is possible that you could be assigned part of the blame for the accident.

In Pennsylvania, you are only entitled to financial compensation if you were less than 51% to blame for the car accident. Your car accident compensation would be reduced by the percentage of fault that you bear, making it even more important that you have an attorney to fight for you.

There May Be Another Responsible Party

Your accident may have resulted from issues stemming from the road itself. The government has a legal obligation to maintain roadways in reasonable condition. Typically, this means that the government needs to clear the roads of snow and ice within a reasonable amount of time after the snow or ice falls. They may also have an obligation to pretreat the roads to keep them from becoming slippery.

Although lawsuits against the government for their failure to do the job are uncommon, it is still possible to successfully file a claim. The government can be negligent like any other citizen when it comes to performing its tasks. However, there are special rules that you need to follow when filing a claim against the government, including time limitations and giving notice of the claim first.

Similarly, you may also sue a private party if the accident occurred in an uncleared parking lot.

You would not have the same rules and restrictions that you face when suing the government.

What Pennsylvania Drivers Need To Know

There are multiple challenges that you need to navigate when you have been injured in an accident during adverse weather conditions. You can expect the insurance company to take advantage of any opportunity to either blame you or protect themselves from liability. You must take steps to establish and protect your legal rights. When there are so many variables involved in a car accident, particularly in adverse weather crashes, it is even more important to hire an experienced attorney to represent you.

Depending on the type of coverage you have, you may still be entitled to some payment for damage regardless of fault. If you have limited tort coverage, you can still file a claim for some of your economic damages (although non-economic damages are beyond your reach).

Reach Out to a Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you have been injured in any type of car accident, you may find yourself in a difficult situation facing the insurance company, which has a pronounced advantage over you. Level the playing field with Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers. You can schedule a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys by sending us a message through a website or by calling us today at 215-274-0173.

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