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Can Drivers Blame This Weekend's Bad Weather for Car Accidents?

Storms ripped across the country this past weekend. The winds blew strong, pulling branches down from trees and ripping their roots right out of the ground. The skies opened up and dropped inches of rain onto the ground. There were even reports of large chunks of hail.

The National Weather Service data showed that the straight-line winds that blew through middle Tennessee on Sunday night into Monday morning reached as high as 50 or 60 miles per hour. Hail was measured anywhere from droplets the size of peas to pellets with a diameter the size of a nickel, and about .42 inches of water fell in the area.

Dents from hail and branches knocked down by the wind are likely not the only damage that occurred in the storm or after. The Tennessee Department of Transportation issued a warning to drivers early Monday morning, asking them to take care. With the amount of rainfall, there was a high chance of standing water on the roads. While the worst might be over, there is more bad weather in the forecast.

Even an inch or two of standing water can make a driver lose control of his or her vehicle, but is bad weather a good excuse for a car accident? The answer is no. An award in a car accident case is not based entirely on whether a driver was traveling the posted speed limit or obeying all stop signs.

Negligence is determined based on the decisions a reasonable person in a similar situation would have made. Bad weather can be a factor considered in this determination. A jury must ask questions such as “would a reasonable person have decided it was safe to drive that speed in that type of weather, even if it was the legal limit?”

Source: The Tennessean, “Storms bring wind damage, hail and cooler temps,” Jordan Buie, April 20, 2015