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How Do Seasonal Weather Conditions Affect Car Accident Liability in Missouri?

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Accidents Happen: Often and Regularly

Accidents occur every minute of every day in America. Seasonal weather can make this regular occurrence even more promising. Whether it’s slippery roads, low visibility, or otherwise, weather can add another obstacle to overcome when traveling to work or other commitments.

So, how does weather affect liability when it comes to car accidents? Read on to learn more.

Drivers Have a Responsibility To Stay Safe No Matter the Weather

All of us as drivers have a duty to stay safe and consider other drivers on the roadways daily. When the weather is not cooperating, there are a few things that we should make sure we are doing to ensure we all get home safely.

Drivers are responsible for adjusting to the conditions around them, such as slowing down during icy or slippery conditions. It’s essential to slow down and give other drivers and yourself more room to change lanes, decrease speed, and stop if it’s snowing or raining.

Speeding on roads is never safe, and speeding can be incredibly dangerous if there is snow, ice, or rain. Quick movements can quickly lead to sliding or skidding into other vehicles on the road. It’s best to slow your speed significantly when navigating poor weather conditions.

Maintenance on your vehicle should always be a priority as well. If you have poorly maintained brakes or bald tires, you are more likely to cause an accident in any weather condition.

What is Comparative Fault and How Can it Affect Liability in a Car Accident?

You may have heard that it’s in your best interest not to assume fault following an accident. Or that you should not communicate with your insurance company or the other parties that you are sorry and that you are to blame.

This recommendation is because, in many states, both (or all) parties can contribute to the accident and may still be eligible to collect damages. Missouri is no exception and follows a comparative negligence rule. All parties involved may be eligible for damages unless they were 100% at fault for the accident.

So how does this work? If you are to blame for 60% of the damages, for example, and the total damages are $100,000, you would only be eligible for $40,000, as your share is reduced proportionately to the percentage of fault you were assigned.

It’s important to note, however, that if you are not following the responsible guidelines regarding driving in seasonal weather, you likely will be found to be partially at fault. So, even if the other driver may have been convicted of Driving While Intoxicated, you may still be found at partial fault if you weren’t driving responsibly during icy or slippery conditions.

Other Liable Parties

If you haven’t been in an accident involving multiple parties, it can be hard to understand who is liable.

If you are in an accident with a semi-truck, the driver and the company the driver is employed by may be found liable. In some cases, employers fall short of correct training or supervising their drivers, making them liable for an accident and the driver/employee.

Hazardous road conditions not related to weather, such as debris in the road, poorly maintained roads, and more, can also lead back to an external party being partially responsible for the accident, such as the county or highway department responsible for maintaining the roadway where the accident occurred.

You may be thinking that Mother Nature may be a liable party regarding an accident due to snow, ice, or rain. Unfortunately, this isn’t typically the case, as you are responsible for accommodating seasonal weather issues and driving with care regardless of the weather conditions.

Slow down and give yourself and others on the roads more room to navigate slippery or otherwise hazardous conditions. Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained so you don’t have issues with windshield wipers, brakes, or other dangerous problems during inclement weather.

Immediately Following an Accident

You can protect yourself following an accident in several ways to help ensure you can recover the damages you rightfully deserve.

First and most importantly, seek medical help if necessary. Keep in mind that some injuries may not present with symptoms immediately, so seeking medical attention, even for something that may be minor, is a responsible decision.

If you’re able to, move your car to a safe position. A secure position may be off the roadway, off to the side of the road, or more. Moving your vehicle can help avoid secondary accidents and also provide necessary safety precautions for emergency assistance that may arrive at the scene.

Gather as much information as possible regarding the accident and what led to it. For example, take pictures or videos on your phone of the damages to the vehicles, the license plates involved, the roadway, any injuries sustained, and more. You will immediately have documentation of things that can help you pursue damages or protect yourself from paying damages that aren’t yours.

Gather witness contact information, contact the police to ensure a police report is filed, and delegate these duties as necessary should you be too injured to handle them yourself.

Don’t Pay For Damages You Aren’t Liable For

Whether you are facing other parties who aren’t paying what is rightfully yours or you are faced with potentially paying far more than what you are liable for, the aftermath of an accident can be frustrating.

With the right team as your fierce ally, it doesn’t have to be. Contact our office at (314) 347-3567 to schedule your free consultation and learn more about how we can best assist you.

We look forward to serving you.

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