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Is bad weather liable for a crash?

Whether the discussion is distracted driving or even defensive driving, the conversation surrounding safety behind the wheel always comes down to one thing: awareness. It's essential to keep your eyes on the road and to be thinking of what might be around that next bend.

This past weekend a heavy rainstorm resulted in 201 crashes in a four-hour period over L.A. Country, a 570 percent increase from that same timeframe the previous week. Weather is a major cause of accidents -- 22 percent of all crashes - and although it's not always predictable, knowing how to drive in harsh conditions can save lives and prevent costly repairs.

Sometimes, though, accidents will happen.

Weather is unpredictable

When it comes to weather, anything can happen from any direction. When the wind fiercely cuts through the hills or a torrential downpour impairs your vision it has effect on driver and vehicle handling.

Your car can flood and stall in the rain, reduced visibility can cause you to hit something in the road, another driver may follow too closely and rear end you or another driver may lose control and force you into an accident. The result can be a single car accident or a multi-car pile-up.

Anticipation is the expectation

But who is at fault when weather leads to a collision?

Fault in a car accident is determined based on the driver's response to conditions. If you've been rear ended because you were going slowly in poor conditions, it's likely that the other driver was moving too fast for the situation. Likewise, if a vehicle loses control by hydroplaning or sliding on a slippery surface, it comes as a result of the driver's actions.

The weather is a factor, but it is not at fault. In other words, bad driving causes accidents, not bad weather.

When accidents happen

Even if your vehicle is the only one damaged, another driver's actions may have caused your accident. If a reckless driver passed you while moving too fast, or cut you off and made you lose control of your vehicle, make sure to note a license plate number if they do not pull over after the incident.

After a weather related accident, it can be difficult to prove to your insurance provider that you weren't at fault, rather that it was another driver or maybe even a poorly maintained road that created a dangerous situation. Attorneys are skilled at piecing together evidence to prove cause of an accident, as well as working with insurance providers to ensure the best settlement.

If you've been in an accident, always follow the proper steps, whether it's a single car accident or something more serious. Take detailed notes, ensure the safety of any people onsite and file a police report.

Although the weather is unpredictable and often menacing, it is not an excuse for poor driving. In fact, it's a reason why drivers need to be more careful. When a driver moves too fast for inclement conditions, it's negligent driving that threatens everyone on the road.

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