Who is Liable When Bad Weather Causes an Accident?

When a car accident is caused by a motor vehicle driver, it is easy to assume that his or her car insurance company will be held financially responsible, or liable, for the crash. If a car accident is caused by a nonhuman factor such as bad weather, however, liability may not be as simple.

Can You File a Claim for a Weather-Related Accident?

The answer to this question depends on the circumstances of the car accident, the actions of the drivers involved and the applicable laws in the state where the crash takes place. It is important not to assume that you are incapable of filing a claim if your car accident was caused by bad weather in Nevada. With assistance from a Las Vegas car accident lawyer, you may still be able to recover compensation from one or more parties.

How Is Fault Determined for a Weather-Related Car Accident?

The dangers presented by inclement weather are well-documented. The Federal Highway Administration states that approximately 21 percent of car accidents – around 1,235,000 collisions – are attributable to weather events each year. Statistically, the most dangerous weather conditions for drivers are rainfall and wet pavement.

Despite the well-known dangers of weather events, many other factors could play a role in a car accident that occurs in bad weather. A full investigation of the crash may be necessary to identify all contributing factors, which may include dangerous roads or violated traffic laws by a driver. Contributing factors will determine who you can hold liable for the car accident.

Driver Behaviors and Crash Liability

Motor vehicle drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles in a safe and prudent manner. This responsibility includes a duty to adjust a vehicle’s speed in dangerous weather conditions. If a driver encounters rain, high winds, fog, snow or other inclement weather, he or she should slow down and increase his or her following distance from other vehicles. If a driver drives carelessly or recklessly in bad weather, he or she could be held responsible for a subsequent car accident.

Government Liability for Weather-Related Car Accidents

Another possibility is holding a government agency responsible for a car accident caused by bad weather. This could be an option if the government was negligent and failed to properly maintain the safety of public roads. If the government knew or should have known that a roadway would flood in heavy rain, for example, but did nothing to remedy the engineering flaw, the government may be held liable for a related hydroplaning accident.

Other crash causes that could point to government liability are dangerous road designs, poorly maintained roads, collapsing roads, roads with defects such as potholes, malfunctioning traffic signs and bad drainage. If bad weather such as wind or rain results in a tree limb falling into the road and causing a crash, the government may also be held liable for the failure to maintain trees in the area.

What to Do After a Car Accident Caused by Bad Weather


If you get involved in a car accident in bad weather, do not assume you are ineligible for insurance coverage – even if it is a single-vehicle crash. There may be additional factors that give you the right to file a claim against one or more parties, such as a dangerous roadway or the negligence of another driver.

It is important to contact an attorney to investigate your car accident as soon as possible to determine fault for you. Help from a lawyer can give you a comprehensive understanding of who is liable for your bad weather accident.