Extreme weather is a generally used term that refers to any unusually bad weather. It could be a downpour, blizzard, or flooding. Extreme weather may also include wind and hail storms associated with the tornados that often affect motorists in states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, though wind and hail could affect any driver anywhere.
Auto insurers often refer to extreme weather as an “act of God.” Most auto insurance policies will exclude acts of God from coverage. The idea is that it was impossible to do anything to prevent the mishap from happening.
Auto insurers are in the business of making money while still providing a measure of protection for motorists. Unfortunately, many draw a line at extreme weather and generally say that you should have done a better job of protecting your vehicle.
Storing it in a relatively safe location and not driving in extreme weather is what the insurer prefers that you do. Yet, many people do not have those options and are caught in extreme weather events that greatly increase the potential for damaging your vehicle and possibly surviving an accident.
Negligent Motorists Always Are Liable for Causing Accidents
Whether driving conditions are terrific with great weather or terrible with extreme weather, a motorist has a duty of care to drive safely. Any violation of the law that leads to an accident would fall under negligent behavior.
Weather is something that drivers cannot control. However, they can control how they drive in extreme weather and the condition of their respective vehicles. All motorists are required to take driving conditions into account and adjust their driving. Extreme weather certainly makes driving more dangerous.
Wet, snowy, or icy roads can make you lose traction. Increase your following distance and slow down when road conditions are wet or slippery.
Extreme weather can cause diminished road visibility as well as reduced traction. For example, a thick fog might settle in during your morning drive to work. Fog could make it nearly impossible to see a car until you are very close to it. If the driver is slowing down or stopped, you could miss the brake lights coming on and crash into the vehicle’s rear end.
When a motorist exceeds the speed limit or ignores traffic controls during extreme weather, that driver greatly increases the potential for a car accident occurring, and that driver also would be at fault for causing the accident.
Vehicle Condition Matters
Owners of registered vehicles must reasonably maintain them to ensure they are safe to drive. Drivers have a duty of care to ensure the vehicles that they use are safe for driving conditions.
If a vehicle is in disrepair, it could become dangerous to drive. Bad brakes, worn or damaged tires, and other issues compromise safety. A motorist is liable for causing accidents when driving a poorly maintained vehicle.
Extreme weather could make it more likely that a car with bald tires will lose traction. It might strike your vehicle while you are driving, and the other driver would be liable for damages. Anything that causes the other driver to lose control of a vehicle and cause an accident makes that driver liable.
An insurance adjuster or accident investigator could inspect a vehicle and determine whether or not it had bald tires, worn-out brakes, or some other issue that made it dangerous to drive.
Claims Denials for “Acts of God”
Sometimes, an auto insurer will declare extreme weather to be the cause of an accident and deny claims. The insurer might conclude that no reasonable person would drive in extreme weather and deny a claim.
Some types of damage claims might be more prone to dismissal as an “act of God.” If a tree limb fell into the roadway and struck your vehicle, your insurer might call that an act of God. Driving into a flooded road and losing control of your car also might trigger a denial.
Even if you have collision and comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, your auto insurer might exclude claims caused by an act of God. Some insurers might offer an insurance rider that adds coverage for acts of God, but you still would be responsible for any negligence or failure to adjust for driving conditions.
Build a Strong Case for Extreme Weather Claims
If you are in an accident in which extreme weather was a factor, you need to build a very strong case to help ensure your claims are paid. If another motorist clearly caused an accident and you have evidence to prove it, the offending vehicle’s insurer should pay your claims up to policy limits.
Obtaining a police report that indicates any unlawful or negligent driving by the offending driver always helps. So does one or more moving citations against the negligent motorist.
If any witnesses stop at the accident scene, you should try to exchange contact information. One or more witnesses can help to affirm the other driver caused the accident while you were driving in a reasonable and safe manner.
If you have a dash cam, it might have recorded the accident and its cause. Many newer vehicles are equipped with dash cams that help to detect other vehicles.
The cameras and other technology enable active safety systems to prevent accidents. They also might help to document driving conditions when an accident occurs. That data could help to prove you were driving safely and the other motorist did not.
If your best efforts fail to get your accident claim approved, an experienced accident lawyer can help. A car accident lawyer could challenge a denial, depose witnesses, and take the matter to court if necessary.
Whenever you have potentially costly accident claims, an attorney is a great resource for ensuring your legal rights are upheld.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Helps Accident Survivors
If you recently survived an extreme-weather car accident, an experienced Delaware car accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow can help. You can call (302) 427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at one of our law offices in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, or Lewes, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.