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Rainfall Related Auto Accidents

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Personal Injury

The Auto Collision injury team at the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. take note of the many rainfall related auto accidents that occur each year within our state. The often unpredictable nature of weather conditions in Florida has always been a concerning problem for motorists. Both the sudden onset of heavy rainfall, as well as continuing rainfall for extended periods of time, present unique hazards to Florida motorists. Although some of these accidents occur due to reduced visibility when it is actually raining, many occur as a result of weather-compromised road surfaces associated with the accumulation of rain.

It is important to remember that neither the presence nor accumulation of rain, in and of itself, can be said to be the actual cause of rainfall related auto accidents. Rather, it is the intersection between human and environmental factors that combine to cause weather-related accidents.  In other words, absent the presence some intervening cause (i.e. vehicle malfunction, roadway maintenance issues, falling debris, a stray animal, etc.)—people cause accidents.

In addition to the duty to abide by specific traffic control laws, motorists have the general duty to operate their vehicles in a reasonable manner given the circumstances. For purposes of assessing reasonableness, in weather conditions such as rainfall, it is necessary to take into consideration ‘all other attendant circumstances,’ including any ‘special hazards.’ Consider the application of the following two subsections of Florida’s Uniform Traffic Control Law in operating a motor vehicle during or following heavy rainfall:

Careless driving. Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. Failure to drive in such manner shall constitute careless driving and a violation of this section. See, Fla. Stat. § 316.1925(1).

Special hazards. The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the prescribed limits shall not relieve the driver from the duty to decrease speed when approaching and crossing an intersection, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, or when special hazards exist or may exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or other roadway conditions, and speed shall be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the street in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care. A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318. See, Fla. Stat. § 316.185.

While the above-listed refer to moving violations, which can and do play an important role in assessing reasonableness in civil actions, a violation need not occur in order for liability to be established.  Consequently, while  the issuance of traffic violation is a good indicator of a motorist’s negligent actions, it is important to remember that the presence of an infraction is not a prerequisite to proving a party’s negligence, establishing liability, and recovering damages following an accident. In other words, assignment of fault, as determined by law enforcement officials, varies from the manner in which fault is assigned in an auto negligence action, for purposes of awarding damages.

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The Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. understands that the factual circumstances of every auto collision are unique. With decades of practice experience, our attorneys possess the knowledge and skill necessary to proficiently assess all relevant facts specific to each particular car accident. If you sustained injury, or a loved one suffered a fatality, as a result of a car crash, we encourage you to contact us, and allow us to review your matter and explain your legal rights and options.