Bad Weather Doesn’t Excuse Bad Driving

A lot of accidents happen during the winter months.  At least half the time defendants blame the weather.

“It was raining so hard I couldn’t see.”

“The snow was piling up and I couldn’t stay in my lane.”

“I couldn’t stop because it was icy.”

Defendants think the weather is an excuse for not being careful.  But here’s how Washington courts see it:

Reduced visibility doesn’t lessen responsibility but gives rise to greater vigilance on the part of driver. 

And when it comes to snow and ice on the roads, Washington courts have held:

There are traffic hazards inherent in traveling on compact snow and ice.  They are part of the entire equation the jury has to consider when determine whether a driver exercised reasonable care.

Weather conditions are a big deal during winter months.  A lot of people cannot get by using public transportation—they have to drive even if it’s raining hard, snowing or the roads are icy.  So what should we do (besides be more careful)?

Two things: buy as much liability insurance as possible in case we hit someone else and buy an equal amount of UIM coverage in case we get hit by someone who has no insurance or not enough insurance.  (Approximately 20 percent of Washington drivers are uninsured and over 70 percent don’t have enough insurance.)

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