When the spring and summer months arrive in South Florida the rains and bad weather create havoc on the highways and side streets. The storms, high winds, and heavy rainfall mean your chances of being in an inclement weather-related accident also increase. Slick surfaces and poor visibility create the perfect storm of hazardous conditions that often lead to car accidents or other personal injuries.
Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A. is experienced in handling automobile accident and personal injury cases, having represented countless clients pursuing compensation for their damages. Tough in and out of the courtroom, our attorneys know what it takes to receive fair compensation from insurance companies and other defendants.
Inclement Weather Accident Injuries
Weather-related crashes account for approximately 20 percent of all vehicle crashes each year, resulting in almost 5,000 deaths and over 400,000 injuries. Inclement weather includes rain, hail, flooding, and high winds, causing slick surfaces, poor visibility, and tough driving conditions. Contributing factors to accidents include:
- Flooded roads, causing automobiles to hydroplane.
- Slick surfaces, requiring greater stopping distances.
- Poor visibility, making it difficult to see hazardous situations.
- Distracted driving, including eating or mobile phone use, that results in a lack of attention.
- Improper equipment, such as worn tires or broken tail lights, which create unsafe conditions.
Inclement weather can also create dangerous situations on a property such as slick surfaces as well as holes and other hazards. If reasonable steps to prevent or fix the dangerous situation are not taken, injured parties may be able to hold the property owner accountable for any harm caused. Contributing factors to weather-related personal injuries include:
- Slick surfaces resulting in falls.
- Holes caused by erosion resulting in falls or other damage.
- Failure to remove debris resulting in falls or other injuries.
- Poor visibility, resulting in harm or injury.
Florida Inclement Weather Accident Law Provides Recovery For Injuries
Florida law provides remedies If another party’s actions or inaction caused your injuries. Most weather-related accidents result in injuries caused by negligence. Negligence is a legal term meaning the failure to take proper care or precautions when acting. To prove another party is responsible for a negligently caused injury, the injured party must show:
- The responsible party owed the injured party a duty to act in a reasonably careful manner;
- The responsible party breached that duty by acting carelessly under the circumstances;
- The responsible party’s actions were the direct cause of the injury; and
- As a result of the responsible party’s carelessness, the injured party suffered recognizable damages.
What Duty is Owed?
Generally, people owe each other a duty to behave in a careful manner and act reasonably. This means everyone must take precautions that the average person would take to avoid causing injury to another. For example, when driving a car, a reasonable person owes other drivers a duty to drive at a safe speed for the conditions. Drivers also owe other drivers a duty of making sure his or her vehicle is properly maintained to safely travel the roads. This includes maintenance of lights, brakes, and tires.
In other situations, property owners such as those operating a store or restaurant owe customers a duty to keep publicly accessible areas safe. For instance, on a rainy day, a reasonable store owner should mop water off floors and put down rugs to reduce the chances of slipping and falling near wet entrances.
Types of Damages
If a responsible party owed you a duty, clearly breached that duty, and the breach was the cause of your injury, you may be entitled to damages. The types of damages you can recover for include:
- Medical Bills (past and future)
- Damage to Person (physical impairment or disfigurement)
- Damage to Property
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Mental Anguish (if causes a substantial disruption to daily routine)
- Attorney Fees and Costs
Limits To Damages in an Inclement Weather Accident
If you are found to be partially at fault for the accident causing your harm, Florida law may limit the amount you can recover. Florida follows a system called comparative fault under the Florida statute. A comparative fault system bases a plaintiff’s recovery on the percentage of fault that may be assigned to the injured party. Under this system, if an injured party is involved in an accident and is at fault for a portion of his or her injuries, his or her recovery is reduced by the percentage of fault he or she carries. For example, in a car accident case, if the injured party was 10 percent at fault for the car accident while the responsible party was 90 percent at fault, liability is limited to 90 percent of the total amount of damages.
Some states only allow an injured party to recover if he or she is assigned no more than 50 percent of the fault of an accident. Florida does not follow this system, allowing an injured party to recover a portion of damages as long as another party also shares in causing the damages. For instance, if the injured party is 60 percent responsible for the injury, he or she may still recover 40 percent of the damages from another party.
Seeking Help From Experienced Inclement Weather Accident Attorneys
Although inclement weather increases the likelihood of being in an accident, the ultimate responsibility falls on individuals for failing to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances. The requirements for proving negligence and the legal framework for seeking damages can be quite confusing. If you believe another party is responsible for your injuries resulting from an accident, an experienced attorney is a vital resource in compensating your losses.
At Staples, Ellis + Associates, P.A., we have handled countless automobile and personal injury cases, achieving exceptional results for our clients. We have the skill and experience to assess your case and determine the value of your claims. We will help you determine how to proceed, whether it be pursuing settlement negotiations or going to trial. Regardless, we are here to help at every step of the way. Consultations are free and you will pay no attorney fees until we win your case.
The Inclement Weather Attorneys at Staples, Ellis & Associates serves clients in Pensacola County, Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, Okaloosa County, Walton County, and throughout Northwest Florida.