Car Accidents When It Rains in California: Who’s Liable?

Car Accidents When It Rains

It is almost never easy to figure out who is responsible (liable) for car accidents. Assigning fault and liability in car accidents comes down to proving negligence. The question: Who is negligent, and why? Before we can try to prove negligence and liability, it’s important to have a basic understanding of those terms.

Negligence in Car Accidents

Negligence can be defined as the failure to exercise prudent care under given circumstances. It is a legal concept by which people are held accountable for their actions.

Liability in Car Accidents

Liability can be defined as the legal responsibility for one’s own acts or omissions. The decisive issue in proving liability is negligence. The persons responsible (negligent) for an accident are the ones who are held liable for it.

Who Is Responsible?

Who is held liable for car accidents when it has rained? It is a complex question, and often times the answer isn’t very easy to obtain.

Driver Negligence

Ideal Driving Conditions

During or after it has rained, the ground will be wet, making it more difficult for drivers to stop and control their vehicles. If a driver is doing the speed limit on a wet road, then that driver is most likely driving negligently because the speed limit is set for ideal driving situations. Ideal driving situations may include a dry road; uncongested traffic; a clear day with no fog, snow, ice, or driving rain; no construction crews working on the roads; and driving with a safe and working car.

Driving Speed

Any situation that makes driving more difficult requires a reduction in driving speed. The more unsafe the driving conditions, the slower people need to drive. In fact, there are times when drivers should not be on the road at all. For instance, in a blinding rain or snow storm, where drivers cannot see or when they are unable to stop their vehicles in a safe distance, they should not be on the road. In those types of situations, drivers should pull off of the road until driving conditions significantly improve and it is safe to continue driving.

Driver and Car Care

There are many other factors that can contribute to a driver’s negligence. Many drivers don’t understand just how important it is to have their vehicles in tip-top condition. Tires need to be properly inflated and in good condition; the windshield wipers need to work properly and must be able to clear the windshield of any water, snow, or debris; the window defoggers need to work; the brake, tail, and headlights need to be in good working condition; etc.  Also, drivers must not operate a motor vehicle with drugs and alcohol in their systems.

When two or more motor vehicles are involved in an accident, all vehicles and drivers are carefully scrutinized to see what factors contributed to the car accident. In other words, anything and everything is investigated in order to find out who was at fault, and the percentage each person was at fault.

Pedestrian Negligence

Pedestrians need to understand that when the road is wet, motor vehicles need more time and space to stop. So stepping off of the curb in front of traffic, or riding a bike or walking near traffic, can be more dangerous in wet weather than it is in dry. In other words, it isn’t always the motor vehicle driver’s fault for an accident. Sometimes it is the pedestrian’s fault, sometimes it is the driver’s fault, and other times it is both their fault. While car drivers are often held responsible for accidents that involve pedestrians, pedestrians need to understand that their actions contribute to the assigned negligence and liability.

California’s Negligence Law

Civil code 1714 of the California negligence law states that (paraphrased) all persons are responsible for injuries caused by their own negligence. California uses a “pure comparative negligence system” which determines monetary compensation to injured parties. The pure comparative negligence system distributes the “percentage” of negligence for all people held responsible in an accident. If a person (plaintiff) is injured in a car accident by Joe. Judy (plaintiff) can bring a case against Joe (defendant) in a court of law. Each person’s liability will have a direct bearing on the monetary damages received. Let’s assume that Joe is found to be 75% at fault and Judy is found to be 25% at fault. In this case, the jury might award Judy $100,000, but since Joe is only 75% at fault, Judy will only receive $75,000 (75% of the $100,000) in damages.

As you can see, proving negligence can be very difficult. There are many factors that can complicate the process, proving negligence and therefore a liability. It takes an experienced lawyer, one with the knowledge, expertise, and know-how to make sense of a car accident and all the ramifications. At M&Y we know how to cut through the legal red-tape and will work diligently on your behalf. For a free case review and consultation, give us a call.

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