What You Should Know About Fault for Low-Visibility Auto Accidents
Weather conditions that inhibit drivers’ visibility can be dangerous for many reasons. The chance of getting into a collision under these conditions is much greater.
One of the challenges of seeking compensation for a crash in these conditions is it is hard to prove fault. The drivers involved may have competing narratives about what happened because it was hard to see.
Our New Jersey-area auto collision attorneys are prepared to discuss your claim during a free consultation to determine who may be liable for your damages, and what legal options may be available to pursue compensation.
Below, we discuss the dangers of driving when there is low visibility and how liability may be determined.
HOW DOES LIMITED VISIBILITY AFFECT DRIVING?
One of the obvious impacts on drivers is limited ability to see the roadway and other vehicles or pedestrians.
Driving at night can be difficult even for keen-eyed drivers, but it may be especially dangerous for those who suffer from night blindness. Impaired visibility can make it difficult to see what is on the roadway and decrease peripheral vision. That is why nighttime driving can significantly increase the chances of a blind-spot accident.
Heavy rain can also impair visibility because cloud cover blocks sunlight. Snow and sleet can also create cloud cover, so a driver’s ability to see properly may also be diminished. Smoke and fog can also have the same effect.
Impaired visibility can impair reaction time. Some objects may appear abruptly, and drivers may not have as much time to hit the brakes or swerve to avoid hitting things.
Another vehicle or pedestrian approaching from the side might be difficult to see because the driver’s sight is limited to what is covered by their vehicle’s headlights.
WHAT FACTORS INTO LIABILITY FOR A LOW-LIGHT CONDITION CRASH?
Despite impaired visibility, drivers still have a duty of care to others who share the road. This means drivers should take reasonable precautions to avoid a collision.
A driver who fails to reduce his or her vehicle’s speed to accommodate the loss of visibility due to low visibility may bear financial responsibility for your damages if an accident occurs. The same applies to drivers who fail to turn on their vehicle’s headlights.
Liability could also fall on the owner of a vehicle who failed to ensure the proper functioning of the headlights, taillights and brake lights to help prevent an accident.
There may be other liable parties depending on where the collision occurred and whether it had to do with proper lighting. For example, a municipality or private property owner could be liable if the collision occurred in an area where lighting was poor due to the negligence of the party that maintains the property.
WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR SEEKING COMPENSATION?
If you were injured in a crash under low-visibility conditions, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages. In New Jersey, drivers must file a claim with their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance to recover compensation for economic damages like medical bills and lost wages.
In cases when your damages exceed the limits of your PIP, you may be able to file a claim with the at-fault party’s liability insurance. If a government municipality is a liable party, your time limit for filing a claim may be shorter, so it is best to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
HOW CAN I PROVE LIABILITY?
You must prove the at-fault party acted negligently and caused the collision that injured you. There are various steps that may help you do this:
- Filing a police report
- Taking photos of the lighting conditions
- Getting eyewitnesses to testify on your behalf
When the at-fault party tries to pin the blame for the collision on you or something else, you may also have the option of working with an accident reconstruction expert who may be able to use technology to recreate the collision to determine who caused it.
TIPS TO AVOID AN ACCIDENT IN LOW-VISIBILITY CONDITIONS
Every driver should take caution to prevent an accident every time he or she gets behind the wheel of a car. Under certain circumstances, such as in low-visibility conditions, additional steps should be taken. This may include the following:
- Slowing down
- Keeping a clean windshield
- Ensuring all vehicle lights function properly
- Using headlights/fog lights and blinkers properly
- Ensuring proper following distance
- Avoid looking directly at lights
- Wearing appropriate eyewear
Some eyewear companies market yellow-lens glasses for night driving, but according to the Sunglass Association of America, these glasses only cut down on the amount of light you can see.
For drivers who require corrective lenses, such as prescription glasses or contacts, it is important to keep the prescription up to date and get regular eye exams. This is especially true for drivers who suffer from nighttime blindness. LASIK surgery is known to cause halos and blurring of vision, which can also happen to those suffering from cataracts.
CALL A LICENSED ATTORNEY TODAY FOR LEGAL ASSISTANCE
Legal claims may be complex when they involve crashes that happened in low-visibility conditions, as there are multiple factors that must be considered. When you are trying to focus on recovering from your injuries, it may be beneficial to have someone who can help you navigate the legal process. That is why having a knowledgeable attorney on your side may be in your best interest.
Our attorneys have decades of experience building strong cases for compensation and have recovered millions on behalf of our clients.*
We are prepared to help. Call (800) 518-0508 today.