March 13, 2023
April 7, 2024

Bad Weather Car Accidents: Who Can Be Held Liable?

Determining fault in a car accident can be difficult, especially during bad weather conditions. Fault still requires some form of negligence; after all, you can’t file a claim against the weather. Learn more about how liability is determined in a bad weather accident.

Weather-related crashes affect millions of Americans every year. In accidents influenced by bad weather, it can be difficult to determine who is liable. Adverse weather conditions can make driving difficult for even experienced drivers to control their cars. 

When it comes to determining fault, inclement weather such as a storm can interplay with human negligence, resulting in liability, and ultimately, financial responsibility for any losses. In such cases, the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney may be needed to determine what types of damages are available to the injured party. 

At Pierce Skrabanek, we have extensive experience dealing with complex car accidents. As Texas residents, we are intimately familiar with local driving conditions that might affect the outcome of a car accident case. Contact us at (832) 690-7000 for a free consultation where we can discuss your options regarding financial recovery.

Read on to learn more about your legal rights if an accident happens due to weather conditions.

What Damages Are Available for Bad Weather Car Accidents?

Damages in a bad weather car accident case will vary depending on several factors, including the severity of injuries and the degree of liability of the other party. Crashes that occur in poor weather often result in more severe injuries. In such cases, damages may be extensive and can cover:

  • Medical bills, including costs of hospital stays, medication, and surgery
  • Treatments not normally covered by insurance, such as therapy and rehabilitation 
  • Property damage for wrecked vehicles 
  • Lost wages during recovery periods
  • Loss of the ability to generate future income in cases involving permanent physical injury
  • Pain and suffering damages attributable to the accident
  • Wrongful death damages in cases where the accident caused a loss of life

Again, the amount of damages available can depend on who is liable, and how egregious the violation is. These types of determinations are best handled by a lawyer who has experience in calculating damages for car accidents.

Which Driver Can Be Held Liable for an Accident That Happens in Bad Weather?

Various parties can be held liable in an accident that happens during bad weather. When it comes to liability or fault, it’s important to understand that bad weather conditions alone don’t always mean someone is to blame. In order to be held at fault in any car accident, it must be shown that the driver was negligent. 

Proving negligence involves proof of the following elements:

  • Duty: It must be shown that the driver had a duty of care to others. In most cases, this is the basic duty to obey traffic safety laws.
  • Breach of duty: The evidence must show that the driver violated their duty of care, for instance by speeding during a rainstorm.
  • Causation: It must be proven that the driver’s conduct directly caused the accident.
  • Damages: The driver’s conduct must result in measurable damages.

Thus, a crash in bad weather may result in legal liability if the driver was somehow negligent. During a storm, examples of how this may look like may include:

  • Speeding: While speed limits are posted, drivers are expected to slow down during adverse weather conditions. So, a driver may be driving negligently even if they are driving close to the speed limit, if weather conditions create a duty to slow down.
  • Following too closely: Bad weather can affect the stopping distance of a car. Driving too close to the car in front during rain can result in a rear-end accident and whiplash injuries. 
  • Drunk driving: Driving under the influence (DUI) is always dangerous, but even more so when it’s snowing or raining. Driving while intoxicated affects reaction time, which is critical during harsh weather conditions. Highway I-45 in Texas has the highest rate of drunk-driving-related crashes in the entire country. 
  • Failure to use proper equipment: Failing to use wipers, turn on headlights, or use chains when needed may be considered negligence. 
  • Distracted driving: Drivers need to be extra alert during bad weather and must focus their attention on the road, not on other distractions such as a phone or talking to a passenger. 

Thus, if there are any actions or precautions that a person failed to do while driving under dangerous weather conditions, they might be held liable for damages.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates there are more than 1.2 million weather-related car accidents every year. A qualified lawyer can help determine whether an accident was caused purely by weather or if someone needs to be held liable for negligent driving as well.

What Other Parties Can Be Held Liable Besides Drivers?

Besides drivers, other actors can be held responsible for car accidents that occur in bad weather or are influenced by the weather:

Road Maintenance Teams  

Bad weather can make already dangerous road conditions even more hazardous. For instance, a missing guardrail on a highway can create a rollover accident if a car loses control on wet or icy roads. 

Damaged roads (potholes), fallen trees, broken stop lights, and obstructed traffic signs are all items that need maintenance. Failure to clear or repair such items, or repairing them in a way that is incomplete, can lead to an accident. Liability in such cases may rest on the city or local municipality, or with contractors who work on such projects. 

Road maintenance crews can also sometimes cause accidents in bad weather. This can happen for instance if they redirect a road during a storm in a way that creates more danger for drivers. Road maintenance trucks and vehicles can also be involved in an accident. 


Harsh weather conditions can often stress the vehicle and put their safety mechanisms to the test. For example, slick roads require properly working brakes. If there is a defect with the braking system or other safety mechanisms, the car manufacturer can sometimes be held liable. 

Such cases may result in class action lawsuits if many people are injured by the same defect. Significant compensation can be available in such lawsuits, but they generally require a lawyer to handle them. 

What Types of Conditions Can Contribute to Car Accidents? 

Various types of weather conditions can make driving more dangerous and contribute to car accidents. When combined with negligent conduct, such weather conditions can create more hazardous driving conditions than normal. These can include: 

  • Rain: Rain can reduce visibility, create slippery roads, and increase stopping distance
  • Fog: Similar to car accidents in the rain, fog can reduce visibility, especially at night time 
  • Snow: Snow can drastically affect traction and stopping ability and can contribute to winter weather car accidents
  • Wet/Slippery Roads: Other conditions such as black ice on the roads can create stopping hazards
  • Wind: Wind can affect driving ability, and in drastic cases, can tip over large (taller) trucks 
  • Heat: Many associate “bad weather” only with cold conditions; however, heat can lead to dehydration, passing out, and mechanical malfunctions

As mentioned, liability must be traceable to the other driver or party’s negligence in order for legal action to be taken. When it comes to bad weather, failure to account for the types of weather above may be considered in a lawsuit. Proving negligence in a car accident is a complex matter that generally requires the help of an attorney. 

How Can I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer? 

In a car accident, fault and liability boil down to negligence, regardless of whether poor weather conditions were involved. A driver who is found to be negligent will be held financially responsible for the damages the crash caused to you or your family. 

A qualified, experienced car accident attorney is needed to help determine fault, especially if bad weather was a factor in the crash. If you or a loved one were involved in such an accident, contact the lawyers at Pierce Skrabanek at (832) 690-7000 to set up a free consultation to discuss your legal rights. 

Our car accident lawyers have returned significant case results for clients, including a $117 million recovery for a car accident involving an ambulance — the largest personal injury verdict in Louisiana history.  

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