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Under the Weather: Accidents, Your Car Insurance and Road Conditions

It’s not your fault, is it?

You were driving during bad weather, and hit an icy patch, or maybe a patch of water, and you started to slide. Or, you couldn’t see because of fog or some other condition outside of your control.

Are insurance companies more lenient when the weather seems to be the reason you got into an accident? What you’re asking about is a legal term called “negligence.”

What is Negligence?

Generally speaking, negligence refers to not exercising a reasonable amount of care that a situation calls for. Lawyers often refer to what a “reasonable person” might do or a “reasonable person” standard. So, if a reasonable person would have acted in a certain way in a similar situation, then not doing that action would be considered negligent.

And, if a reasonable person would not have done something, then doing that thing would be considered negligent. As you can imagine, there’s quite a bit of interpretation when it comes to what constitutes “reasonableness” under the law.

And, when a case goes to court, the jury needs to figure out whether a person’s actions are reasonable. Also, your insurance company will weigh in on the matter.

How Bad Weather Conditions Determine Negligence

When the weather is part of the reason you were involved in an accident, a lot of factors go into play to determine whether you were at fault or negligent. Other factors that lawyers, and the court, as well as your insurer, look at are the speed you were driving when the accident occurred, the exact road conditions, the visibility, and whether you were distracted by intoxication, texting, or doing some other activity.

For example, if you were involved in an accident, and it was raining heavily while it happened, what was going on in the car at the time? Were you driving over the speed limit? Were you on your phone? These are things that could affect the outcome.

Let’s say you were driving and texting at the same time when the accident occurred. It’s entirely likely that your insurer will find you negligent, and so will a court, because a reasonable person wouldn’t be texting and driving during a heavy storm.

Likewise, if a person is driving while intoxicated, a court may rule that this is negligence, especially under adverse weather conditions. Even under normal weather conditions it may be considered negligent in addition to the usual DWI violation. is one site where you can go to get more information about what might be considered negligence while driving under adverse conditions.


Insurance companies are not necessarily harsh or lenient when it comes to bad weather conditions. What really matters is the context in which the accident occurred. For insurers, the bad weather is just another factor for them to consider when trying to determine fault and which drivers were negligent. This is the way the law sees it, and the way courts expect insurers to treat their policyholders.

Under the law, things that are reasonable in good weather may not be reasonable in bad weather. At trial, the job of the court is to figure out what’s reasonable and then instruct the jurors that they should take the weather into account when making a determination as to whether a driver was negligent.

Ella Knight works the call center for a busy car insurance company. She shares some of her insider knowledge through her articles which appear around the web.

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