Accidents can strike at any moment. It’s a harsh reality that drivers must face every time they get behind the wheel. In California, though snow is a rarity, residents are not entirely free from weather-related driving hazards. The state’s residents still face risks associated with driving in the rain. This is particularly true in the early part of the year when rainfall is more frequent.
One such risk is hydroplaning, a dangerous phenomenon that occurs when a vehicle skates across a thin layer of water, causing the tires to lose contact with the road surface. But when a hydroplaning incident leads to an accident, how does the law determine who’s at fault?
Driver’s behavior is factored in
Hydroplaning typically happens during or after heavy rainfall. When a vehicle’s tires don’t displace water quickly enough, its tires lift and glide on the water’s surface. This results in the driver losing control of the vehicle, potentially leading to serious accidents. In California, determining fault in a hydroplaning accident involves analyzing several factors. These can include:
- The drivers’ actions before the accident
- The condition of their vehicles
- The specific circumstances surrounding the incident
The law often looks at whether the drivers were behaving negligently. For example, did they ignore traffic signals or signs due to poor visibility in the rain? Did they fail to use their headlights, making their vehicle less visible to others? Were their windshield wipers in bad condition, impairing their ability to see the road clearly?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to these questions, insurance companies may view them as negligent and, therefore, at fault.
Possibility of recovering damages
California’s ‘pure comparative negligence’ law adds another layer to this issue. Under this law, even a driver who is at fault to any degree can still recover damages. However, their compensation is according to their percentage of fault. For instance, if a driver is 40% at fault, they can still recover 60% of their damages from the other party. This is assuming that the other party is 60% at fault.
Knowing what to do in an accident
Gathering crucial information such as medical records, witness statements and photos can help assist in assigning liability after an accident. In addition, it’s helpful for filing insurance claims. Nonetheless, those involved in similar situations should consider seeking the help of a legal professional to understand their rights and potential liabilities.