Accidents Caused When A Driver Losses Control Due to Rain, Flooding or Curved Roadways
Living and working in a state that is bordered by an ocean on one side and a gulf on the other, Florida drivers are faced with all sorts of wet road conditions. Wet street surfaces are common here: it’s a geographical reality. Even on a sunny day, some roadways in the Miami-Dade / Broward / Palm Beach metroplex are damp with dew in the mornings and in the evenings from ocean spray.
Of course, we also get our fair share of rainfall and thunderstorms, as well as the occasional tropical storm during the summer months. We get lots of rain here. In 2015, for example, South Florida saw record-breaking amounts of rain with Fort Lauderdale measuring 66.5 inches – one of the highest municipal rainfall amounts in the entire state.
Hurricane season is always a big concern here, too. We’ve been blessed with not being hit by a major hurricane for several years now. Still, even though some recent tropical storms have missed hitting Florida, the fact that they move near our shores on their way up the Atlantic coastline or into the Gulf of Mexico they still bring flooding and rainfall that impacts our commutes for days or even weeks.
Because of our wet climate South Florida drivers have a higher risk of motor vehicle accidents caused by adverse road conditions, including wet and slippery surfaces.
Loss of Control Accidents Due to Adverse Weather Conditions: Slippery, Wet Roads
Insurance adjusters are well aware of these climate conditions and how weather can play a factor in traffic accidents here in South Florida. However, their perspective is different than most: they consider the risk of an accident due to a slippery and wet road surface as something that the driver should somehow have overcome.
If they can find a reason to believe that you were at fault and responsible for the accident, then they will do exactly that in order to deny your claim for damages — and they use lots of arguments to support their position.
What Are Some Arguments That Insurance Adjuster Use To Deny Your Claim?
For instance, insurance companies argue that:
1. Drivers need to drive slowly and carefully on wet roadways. If they can show that you did not slow down, then they may argue that speed alone caused the crash.
2. Drivers should know that our roads are covered with stuff that leaks from all of the motor vehicles that travel our roadways. Our streets have oil and gas droppings, steering and brake fluid, as well as radiator fluids and the like. And in Florida, some roadways can become slick from a combination of these liquids with sand from nearby beaches, creating a thick substance that tires can find difficult to grip. Also, oily film on a roadway combined with rain or dew (and sand) can create a very slippery surface. An insurance adjuster may argue that these conditions are to blame for an accident, not their insured.
3. Drivers should have tires that are properly inflated and with sufficient trend. If there was a tire that needed some air, then the insurance adjuster may point to that condition as causing the collision. Tires that don’t have enough air, or enough tread, cannot grip the road well. Keeping the tires in good condition is something that the driver should have taken care of with proper vehicle maintenance.
4. Drivers that are overly cautious on a wet road or in a thunderstorm may get the blame, too. Insurance adjusters may try and argue that a driver’s slamming on the brakes and causing a skid, or driving too slow and hydroplaning are the reasons for the accident and a basis for denying any claim for damages.
5. In some storms, it’s hard to see the road ahead because the rain is coming down fast and hard. Expect the insurance adjuster to check weather conditions on that date, and at that time of the car accident. Did the driver have his or her wipers going as fast as needed? Were the wipers in good condition? Was the defogger being used to keep the glass windshield clear? Were his or her hazard lights on? If the insurance adjuster can, he or she will argue that the reduced visibility from your failure to take appropriate measures caused the accident and not the actions of their customer.
Curved Roadways and Sharp Turns
South Florida roads, streets, and highways are not all straight lines. Our traffic is often routed to take drivers along a path that enhances an appreciation of our environment. Which means you may find a roadway that is curved, and twisted, as it maneuvers through our ocean views and palm-tree filled streets.
An insurance adjuster may argue that a driver was going too fast to maneuver a particular curve, round-about or winding street. Or, they may say the surrounding traffic at the time that the driver approached the curve caused the accident. Was there enough distance between the driver and the other cars? If not, then the driver filing the claim was at fault because he or she didn’t maintain a safe following distance.
10 Tips on How To Prevent Loss of Control Accidents on Florida Roads
Knowing how insurance adjusters can approach a loss of control accident claim, we have compiled a list of tips on how to avoid these kinds of motor vehicle accidents.
Consider the following:
1. Keep your tires properly inflated and make sure the tread is good.
2. Always use your parking brake when you park your vehicle — and never fail to use the parking brake if you are parking on an incline, no matter how slight it might be.
3. Make sure that you have your window wipers working properly before you’re caught in a torrential downpour on the interstate. Change the wiper blades when necessary. Keep the cleaning fluid levels up. In a heavy downpour, those windshield wipers are extremely important to your visibility.
4. Use low beams when you are driving in a rain storm or on a dark, curved roadway or any other road condition where it may be wise to help other drivers see where you are in the roadway.
5. Keep an eye out for the traffic around you. If you are entering a hazardous condition, like heavy rain or curved and winding roads, then give yourself a good amount of room between the other vehicles. Experts suggest that it can take as much as 300% longer for you to come to a complete stop in your car on a wet road surface than a dry one. Drive accordingly.
6. Make sure your car is equipped with properly functioning anti-lock brakes. Many vehicles sold in the United States today have this kind of crash-avoidance technology. They work by blocking wheels from locking up and going into a skid when the driver slams his foot on the brake. Antilock brakes do this by automatically controlling the brake pressure on each wheel when the car goes into a possible skid.
7. Don’t use cruise control on a curved roadway or during rain conditions.
8. If you see red brake lights ahead in traffic, use those hazard lights to let traffic behind you see clearly that it’s time for everyone to slow down and maybe even stop.
9. Reduce your speed, even if you are going to be driving under the speed limit. The Florida lawmakers set up speed limits for dry day conditions — not for stormy weather. Lower speeds mean that you have more time to be aware and react to traffic conditions and road hazards. Lower speeds also mean that you will have a greater opportunity for your tires to grip the road and have good traction, especially as you drive in a sharp curve on a winding road.
10. In heavy rain, try and drive in the tracks of the vehicle in front of you because there will be less water on the road surface here, giving your tires better traction.
Fighting Insurance Denials of Loss of Control Accident Claims
When a driver loses control of their vehicle and an accident happens, of course it is easy to finger point at that driver as the cause of the crash. However, no traffic accident is simple and the circumstances surrounding every accident are unique.
It may look like the driver was at fault, but it may not be true. A thorough investigation of the accident is required (and don’t assume that the insurance adjuster is going to do this). Things to consider include:
1. The site of the accident
2. The weather conditions at the time of the crash
3. The traffic at the time of the accident
4. Road conditions at the time of the crash (amount of oil, gas, sand, etc., on the surface)
5. Crash-avoidance technology in the vehicle itself (anti-lock brakes, etc.)
6. Witnesses to the crash
7. Road hazards at the time of the accident
8. The roadway design and condition at the time of the crash
9. The experience of the driver in driving in these conditions
10. The experience of the driver in driving along this roadway.
For more on the need for your own accident investigation, read our post on the Top 10 Reasons Insurance Companies Don’t Pay Accident Claims.
Loss of control claims can be difficult cases to settle; knowing how insurance companies react to the claims can be invaluable to someone who has been involved in one of these accidents.
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in a car accident related to adverse road conditions, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer) to answer your questions.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.
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