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Daily weather a big factor in road safety

Soon, national newscasts will be filled with pictures of snow covered roads and vehicle pile-ups in northern cities. Southern California is lucky to avoid these issues but there are still serious accidents caused by our own winter weather like rainfall and heavy fog.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that weather causes about 22 percent of car accidents and about 16 percent of crash-related deaths. While the serious storms -- blizzards, tornadoes, floods and hurricanes -- dominate the news cycle, it's actually daily weather conditions like rain and fog that cause the majority of accidents.

Some of the most dangerous "minor" weather conditions include:

  • Fog
  • Freezing drizzle
  • Sun glare
  • Heavy rain
  • Wet road surfaces

Weather related accidents

Weather can cause poor visibility, loss of control and surprises in the road. These hazards create numerous crash scenarios that involve a single vehicle or multiple cars.

Accidents occur when you slide out of control or swerve to avoid something. This can be a snowdrift, blowing debris or even another car that's has crossed into your lane while fighting the same road conditions you are. You may drive off the road and damage your car in a ditch, against a median or by hitting something. Or, you could collide with another vehicle.

After any accident a driver should do the following:

  • Check the health of all drivers and passengers
  • Call the police to file a report
  • Collect insurance information from other drivers
  • Document damages and the scene of the accident, ideally with detailed photos
  • Visit a doctor

Filing a claim

After an accident do not admit fault to another driver or a police offer, and take careful notes of driving and road conditions. Even in a single car accident, external elements influenced your collision. Poor maintenance or bad road design may be at fault. Even in single car crashes, another driver is often at fault but you may have swerved to avoid collision, hitting something else instead.

When talking to your insurance company, avoid any claim of fault and carefully consider any offer they make. Insurance companies are in business to make money and they'll often under compensate regardless of your coverage or driving history.

You can't control the weather and it shouldn't be your fault when the intangibles damage your vehicle or your health. Coverage in these scenarios is one of the basic reasons you carry insurance. If you feel their offer is unfair, a personal injury attorney is experienced at insurance negotiations and securing equitable compensation after a loss.

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