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Does Bad Weather Excuse Bad Driving?

Everyone who has driven in heavy rain probably has noticed a perplexing tendency of some drivers to simply ignore the weather. Racing along at “dry weather” speeds during rain ignores the loss of traction and reduced visibility that comes with rain. When an accident occurs during bad weather, people who are injured in the crash may wonder how the weather’s role in the accident might factor into the at-fault driver’s liability. The answer to that question will depend on a number of considerations. As a general principle, Nevada drivers owe certain legal duties. The first of these is to obey traffic laws. The second is more abstract: a driver is obligated to drive in a safe manner, with the goal of avoiding accidents and injuries. In truth, even traffic laws are subject to a certain amount of interpretation once rain starts falling. Nevada law requires drivers to use their windshield wipers when driving in rain or snow. But it doesn’t necessarily require drivers to slow to a crawl. Speed limits generally are set according to what is deemed a safe maximum speed on a roadway in dry, daylight conditions. When roadway conditions change, the posted speed limit may no longer be appropriate. If the at-fault driver was breaking the speed limit at the time of the accident that does provide the plaintiff with a strong case for negligence, but it can be a closer call if the defendant was driving at or below the posted limit but was still moving too fast under the conditions. A driver’s general duty to operate a vehicle in a safe manner leads to more close questions that must be answered in light of the facts of the accident and the events leading up to it. The Nevada Department of Transportation’s rainy day driving safety tips provide a potential reference for evaluating whether someone was operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner. For example, someone who doesn’t adjust following distance to allow for longer stopping times might be driving in a negligent manner. Of course, the DOT’s list is not legally binding. Every accident needs to be evaluated according to its own merits. Far from excusing irresponsible driving, bad weather imposes additional obligations on drivers. The facts of the weather at the time of the accident will be important components of an injured person’s claims against the at-fault driver and his or her insurance. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in personal injury and auto accident cases. Contact us today for a free attorney consultation about your accident. We can be reached at 702-388-4476 or through our site.