As much of the United States recently experienced a bout of extreme cold and many of us here in Florida have been experiencing unusual weather conditions (such as ice on the roadways) it seems like a good time to talk about the manner in which liability is determined when someone is injured in a car accident caused by inclement weather conditions such as ice or snow.
Who is Liable?
Although the number of car accidents that occur on any given day increases dramatically when there ice on the roadways, you may be surprised to learn that a driver can still be held legally liable for an accident even if inclement weather conditions “caused” the accident. This is because drivers have a legal obligation to drive with the level of care that is necessary given the current driving conditions. For example, if you are driving down the freeway on a sunny day then it may be safe to travel at 65 miles per hour if that is the posted speed limit. However, if you are driving on the same road at night while your visibility is impaired by dense fog then it would likely not be safe to go 65 miles per hour and you would be legally obligated to drive more slowly. The same is true when there is snow or ice on the road.
Therefore, when icy or snowy conditions play a role in causing a car accident, liability is determined in the same way as it would have been had the accident occurred on a sunny day. Here in Florida this is accomplished via what is known as a pure comparative fault theory of negligence. Under a pure comparative fault theory of negligence, car accident liability is determined by assigning each negligent party a percentage of fault. To illustrate this concept let’s consider a hypothetical example. Pretend that you were injured in a Florida car accident and suffered $10,000 worth of damages. When your resulting personal injury lawsuit goes to trial the court finds that the driver who rear-ended you was 80 percent at fault for causing the accident while you were 20 percent at fault because your rear lights were out at the time of the accident. Under a pure comparative fault theory of negligence, you would be able to hold the other driver liable for 80 percent of the damages that you suffered (in this case, $8,000).
Need Legal Advice?
Here at Piccin & Glynn, Attorneys at Law, our well respected injury attorneys handle a wide variety of personal injury lawsuits throughout Florida and would be happy to help with your auto, truck, or motorcycle claim. To discuss the merits of your claim as well as your legal options with one of our experienced auto, truck, and motorcycle accident lawyers simply contact our Ocala office today by calling 352-558-8480.