By: Manibog Law PC
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Historic Storm Fueled by Atmospheric River to Slam Southern California through Thursday.
The weather plays a big role in your ability to drive. After all, you need to see to control your vehicle and avoid collisions. When heavy rainfall, mudslides, and other natural disasters hit Southern California, you may get more than just wet. It could cause car accidents and property damage as well.
California Weather Gets Dicey
Southern California is reporting heavy rainfall and snow for the past few days. The next few days are expected to be even worse. Reports of flooding and mudslides are coming in, especially in those areas that no longer have vegetation because of wildfires. Although it may be safer to stay inside, that is not an option for those heading to work, school, and doing errands. So, what happens when the weather contributes to an accident? Whose fault is it? Can fault simply be chalked up to bad weather? If someone hits you car during a rainstorm, do they get to point to the weather and say, “sorry, not my fault.” Not necessarily.
How Weather Affects Driving
Rain, snow, sleet, fog, and any number of other weather conditions affect drivers’ ability to operate their vehicles effectively. This is especially true when drivers are not used to a specific weather condition, such as heavy rains in areas that generally do not get much rain.
Drivers that are unsure of their abilities will drive at very slow speeds. Although they may think this is safer, it can actually be very dangerous for those around them who are not expecting someone to drive that slowly. On the other hand, drivers are sometimes overly confident and driver too quickly for the conditions.
Heavy rains can cause visibility problems and puddling on the road. If your vehicle hits large puddles just right, it can skid or hydroplane. Hydroplaning occurs when your tires are no longer touching the ground, but they glide over the surface of the water. When this happens, you cannot control the direction of your tires, which often leads to a loss of control.
Legal Liability and the Weather
The standard for “negligence,” or carelessness that must be shown in virtually every car accident case is that a driver was not driving reasonably for the conditions. For example, if there is dense fog and the driver does not have his or her headlights on, that could be considered negligent. Other vehicles cannot see that car and may not react appropriately as a result.
As a driver, you must slow down, make more space between vehicles, and take appropriate safety precautions where there are hazards that you must address while driving. If you do not, then your carelessness could lead to an accident—and legal responsibility for someone else’s damages and injuries.
Some Quick Tips for Driving in Heavy Rain
If you need to drive in heavy rain conditions, you should use the following quick tips to decrease the likelihood that an accident occurs.
- Slow down. Keep in mind that driving slower allows you to have more time to react to potentially dangerous conditions. But, you should not drive so slow that you are a hazard to others.
- Focus on the car ahead of you. If you are driving in traffic, keep a close eye on the car ahead of you, but do not follow too close. The other driver may need to brake suddenly, and you should react quickly.
- Turn on your lights and defrost. Windows often fog up in heavy rain. Be sure to also use your headlights so others can see you better too.
- Pull over if necessary. If you are not comfortable driving, play it safe and pull over when you can. Avoid parking on the side of the road if possible—find an off-ramp or nearby side street to wait out the storm.
- Avoid standing water. Driving through large puddles of water is never a good idea. You can hydroplane, or you may even get stuck. Go around large pools of water if at all possible.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident that involved poor weather conditions, do not just write it off as bad luck. You may have a legal claim against the other driver for your injuries and damages. Let Manibog Law help you consider your options: Call 1-800-MANIBOG.