Can environmental factors cause traffic collisions?
Environmental factors are the conditions we must face when driving. They are completely out of our control and the only way to avoid them is to stay off the road entirely. They often include:
- Weather conditions, such as rain, snow, wind, and fog
- Roadway infrastructure, such as frequent curves and poorly regulated intersections
- Road defects, such as potholes and debris
- Poor visibility caused by a lack of lighting, headlight glare, or physical obstructions
When environmental factors are considered, the cause of a traffic collision may seem like a gray area. It may be easy to blame a highway pileup on slick road conditions. It's important to understand that environmental factors don't cause crashes - they only contribute to them. While drivers can't avoid environmental factors, they can avoid human error.
Environmental factors vs. human error
Poor handling of environmental factors is what causes crashes — speed and inattentiveness is usually the culprit. Here are some examples of how speeding and aggressive driving can lead to crashes when road conditions are unfavorable:
- Stopping time and distance increases significantly when roads are wet or slippery.
- The risk of losing control or rolling over increases when navigating curves and turns.
- Drivers have less time to react when visibility is limited.
Distracted driving also causes a lot of crashes when combined with environmental factors. While cellphones are the most common cause of distracted driving, any task that takes drivers' hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, and attention away from driving can cause a crash. Here's how:
- When drivers take their eyes off the road, they have less time to react to the actions of other drivers, debris in the road, and unpredictable curves.
- When drivers take their hands off the wheel, they are more likely to lose control on slippery roads or when handling curves.
How might insurance companies use environmental factors to downplay my claim?
When you file a car accident claim, the at-fault driver's insurance company will try to use every trick in the book to downplay your claim. They may first try to shift the blame away from the at-fault driver and convince you that your crash was caused by the weather or a poorly designed road. They may then try to convince you that nobody was at fault.
That's why it's best to consult with an experienced Chicago car accident attorney before speaking to the at-fault driver's insurance company. The legal team at Coplan + Crane can investigate your crash and look for evidence that supports your claim. For example, our attorneys may find that the driver who hit you was distracted, by obtaining electronic records. We may also look for clues of speeding, by examining tire marks in the road or obtaining a copy of the police report.
You shouldn't have to pay for costly financial damages because of someone else's failure to drive responsibly. Our attorneys can help you obtain every penny owed to you. That includes medical expenses, lost wages and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.