If you are a Floridian resident or regular visitor, you are well aware of the fact that afternoon storms are a regular occurrence during the summer months. You are also aware of the fact that those storms can be heavy and that water can be slow to move off the roads. Hydroplaning is a real threat to safe driving during rain, and unfortunately not considered an Act of God (an unavoidable accident due to natural elements). The driver of a vehicle is often found liable during a hydroplaning accident, meaning he or she is responsible for damages caused during an accident.
Hydroplaning is not an Act of God
An “act of God” is a term that insurance companies use to explain accidents that do not have fault attached to them. For example, if heavy winds blow a tree onto a vehicle – there is no way to assign liability. The weather caused the damage. Direct flood damage and damage caused by debris are considered acts of God.
However, many damages and injuries are not considered acts of God – because they are ultimately the fault of an individual’s participation in the accident. For example: hydroplaning involves a driver who, although inadvertently, causes damage.
Drivers have a duty of care
Extreme weather is a part of the Florida climate and every driver should be able to operate their vehicle safely if they decide to drive in those conditions. They have a duty of care, or a duty to other drivers to exercise safety. Therefore, the driver is responsible for their decision to operate a vehicle in extreme weather and will be held responsible for any damages associated with hydroplaning in rain.
In short, under Florida law, duty of care means a driver who cannot be safe in a vehicle should not be on the road.
Who is liable for accidents in extreme weather?
With the above in mind, liability lies on the driver who hydroplaned. The process to determine liability in bad-weather crashes is exactly the same as it is during neutral weather. The following statements determine liability after accidents:
- The driver has a duty of care
- The driver did not exercise their duty of care
- As a result, the driver caused an accident
If you were in an accident caused by hydroplaning, it is important to seek counsel from an accident attorney who can help you navigate the aftermath and deal with insurance companies. The team and attorneys at Cohen & Newmark PLLC are known for their avid representation of clients and ability to obtain fair compensation for damages and injuries. Call Lee today for a free consultation and to learn more about the possible outcomes of your case.