Florida rain storms are the biggest cause of car accidents every year. According to the US Department of Transportation, 1,235,000 crashes in the US each year are weather-related. Out of these crashes, 418,000 people are injured and 5,000 are killed. 70% of all the rain related crashes are on wet pavement while 48% occur during the actual rainfall. This number is staggering when you compare them to winter conditions. Only 18% of weather related crashes happen during snow or sleet and only 13% on icy pavement.
When you think of unsafe driving conditions, you would certainly expect ice, snow and sleet to dominate the list. But rain and wet roads are actually the most dangerous, statistically. We know just how dangerous wet roads can be in Florida. At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we have handled countless car accident injury claims arising from wet driving conditions. Whether cars have skidded into another, hydroplaned, or simply been driving too fast for the wet conditions, rain and wet roads exacerbate poor driving. When you combine congestion, elderly drivers, and tourists to wet roads, car accidents are bound to happen in great numbers. This article was written to describe situations involving car accidents on wet roads and provide information about starting an injury claim.
Even Light Rain Increases the Risk of Death from Car Accidents
According to a new study by the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, fatal traffic accidents increase by 34 percent during precipitation events and by 27 percent in light rain. The study analyzed 125,012 accidents with fatalities in the US between 2006 and 2011 while also studying the weather patterns at the time of the crash. The study showed a spike with just light rain. Morning rush hour was the most common time of these fatal crashes. According to the author of the study, the point of highest risk began just as rain began to drizzle, or when you first might consider using an umbrella. The theory behind the danger is that people drive their cars slower in heavy rain, but do not fully appreciate the danger from the wet roads during a light rain.
Can I Be at Fault If the Rain or Wet Roads Caused Me to Wreck My Car?
Yes. If you lost control of your car in the rain and caused an accident, you are at fault. It does not matter whether the road was flooded or you hydroplaned. According to Florida law, you are responsible for the safe operation of your vehicle at all times. Part of the safe operation requires you to drive at a speed that is safe for the conditions and to stay far enough back from another driver so that you can stop in time. For example, if it is raining and the car in front of you slammed on his brakes quickly and you skidded into him because of the slick road, you are still at fault. Your car insurance will pay the claim to the other driver for the damage to his car and any injuries. This is because you are required to maintain a distance far enough behind in order to stop even if the car in front of you hits his brakes.
Can a Car Driver Who Crashed Into You Blame the Rain or Wet Road?
No. If another driver crashes into you and tries to blame the road or weather conditions, it will not work. Florida law requires every driver to control their vehicle regardless of the weather conditions. So, if the other driver tries to blame the rain or the visibility, let them. They will simply be digging their own grave and it will help your claim. No law enforcement officer hearing a weather excuse will buy that story. The other driver will be issued a ticket for careless driving and you will win one step in the case-proving liability. The next step will be recovering damages and you can speak to a car accident attorney in more detail about how to do that.
How Rain and Wet Roads Impact Car Accident Liability
Negligence laws apply to all car accident cases. Rain and wet roads increase the chances that a car will lose control, thus drivers are required to be more careful. All drivers have a duty to drive their vehicles safely to protect others and avoid crashes. Some ways that this can be accomplished are as follows:
- making sure that the car is properly serviced and maintained for all road conditions. This means that tire tread must be monitored. Small items like windshield wiper blades should be replaced to increase visibility.
- adjusting the speed of the car to the weather conditions regardless of the posted speed limit. For example, if the speed limit is 65 mph on I-275 in St. Petersburg and you are going the speed limit when you lost control and slammed into another car, you are still liable for the accident even if you weren’t speeding. In this scenario, you should have slowed to below the speed limit in order to continue to safely operate your car without crashing.
- leaving more space between cars than usual. As the roads get wet and stopping distance increases, cars are required to leave more space in between the cars in front of them.
- allowing more time to get to a destination. This is particularly more difficult to accomplish especially during morning commute to work, but should apply to any destination to cut down the risk of a crash.
- always drive defensively expecting that another driver will not be able to control their car in the rain. This means trying to avoid sudden stops or any driving that increases the risks of a crash.
Contact a Local Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident due to someone who lost control of their car in the rain or on wet roads, you have the ability to make a claim for your damages. This means that you will be entitled to recover money for your injuries, your medical bills, lost wages, out of pocket expenses, and pain and suffering. The person who caused the car crash and injured you will be 100% liable for the accident. The only question is how much the case is worth and how much insurance is available to recover.
If you have been injured and wish to file a claim, please contact us. We specialize in car accident claims and can assist you throughout the process. We are always available and our consultations are free. There is no pressure to hire us and there is no risk to simply reach out and ask about what we may be able to do for you.