Operating a motorcycle in poor weather conditions increases the risk of losing control and crashing. But if you are the victim of an accident due to bad weather, you may wonder: Who is responsible?
The answer depends on the circumstances surrounding the crash, but one thing is clear: As a motorcyclist — just like any other driver — you have a duty to take the proper precautions to prevent accidents.
Understanding the impact of weather conditions on motorcycle accidents can help you know how to proceed after your crash.
The Risks of Poor Weather on Motorcycle Riding
Unlike passenger vehicles, motorcycles do not offer much protection from weather elements. Wind, cold temperatures, heavy rains, snow, and sleet can significantly impact a motorcyclist’s ability to operate the bike safely.
Several common weather conditions can affect motorcycle operation:
- Rain can limit visibility and create slick roads, causing your motorcycle to lose traction — especially around curves or when making sudden stops. Storms can cause power outages, affecting traffic signals and creating chaos near intersections. Other drivers may not be able to see you in heavy downpours.
- Ice can severely lower traction for motorcyclists. Most motorcyclists consider May through September “motorcycle season” for a reason — riding in the winter is dangerous.
- Hot temperatures in Southern California can lead you to forgo safety gear to stay cool, limiting your protection in an accident. While wearing a helmet may make you feel hot, you will feel worse if you are in an accident without one.
- Heavy winds can cause you to sway while riding your motorcycle, setting you off balance and potentially tipping you over. The Santa Ana winds in Orange County can be brutal, and riding in them or any other windy conditions is not worth the risk.
- Dense fog can limit your visibility as a rider and make it next to impossible for other drivers to see you coming. Your motorcycle is much smaller than a passenger car, and other drivers may not be able to see it through the fog until they are too close to stop in time.
Who Is Liable for Accidents in Bad Weather?
If you were in a motorcycle crash during poor weather conditions, you may blame the accident on the weather. But California is a fault state, which means that someone is to blame in all car accidents.
Generally, drivers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions while operating their vehicles to keep other drivers safe and avoid accidents. Traffic laws are in place to mitigate risks while driving.
When you operate a motorcycle in adverse weather conditions, you are not technically breaking any laws. But an insurance company could argue that you also are not taking precautions to stay safe.
While investigating the accident, the insurance company may ask the following questions to determine your liability in the bad-weather accident:
- Were you out for a joy ride, or did you have somewhere specific to go?
- Did you check the weather before you left?
- Do you have a passenger vehicle you could have driven instead?
If you found yourself caught in the middle of a storm and had to reach your destination by a certain time, the insurance company may be more understanding of your choice to ride in bad weather. But if you recklessly chose to ride in the rain or snow when you did not need to, the insurer may be less sympathetic and assign you liability for the accident.
Of course, the insurance company will examine the accident circumstances and take recorded statements from all parties involved. Even if you probably should not have been riding in the wet weather conditions, another driver may have directly caused the accident by rear-ending you, turning in front of you, or striking you in an intersection.
The impact of weather conditions on motorcycle accidents may lead the insurance company to assume that you played a bigger role in the accident than you did.
Can You Still Seek Compensation After an Accident Involving Poor Weather?
California is a pure comparative negligence state. Even if you were 99% at-fault for the accident, you could seek compensation — though the other party would only be responsible for paying 1% of your damages.
You will want to make sure that the percentage of blame the insurance company assigns to you reflects the reality of the accident. If you believe another driver was 100% at fault but the insurer assigned you partial blame, an attorney can help you appeal the insurance company’s decision.
Preventing Motorcycle Accidents in Poor Weather Conditions
The simplest way to prevent motorcycle accidents in poor weather conditions is not to take your bike out when the weather is bad. Follow the unspoken rule of “motorcycle season” and only ride your bike when there is no snow or rain in the forecast. Even though Orange County has mild winters, the weather may not always be suitable for motorcyclists.
If you must ride your bike in bad conditions, keep these safety tips in mind:
- Leave extra distance between yourself and other drivers.
- Wear bright clothing to make yourself more visible in fog and rain.
- Slow down so you do not lose control of your bike.
- Avoid leaning too severely in windy and wet weather conditions.
- Always wear a helmet — it is the law in California.
- Steer clear of puddles and standing water.
- If possible, seek shelter and wait for the bad weather to clear.
What To Do After a Motorcycle Accident in Bad Weather
Have you experienced a crash while riding in poor weather conditions? Follow these steps:
- Move to safety to prevent other motorists from striking your vehicle.
- Call the police and file a police report.
- Avoid admitting fault or saying that the weather caused the accident.
- Seek legal guidance from an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.
Seek Compensation After a Motorcycle Accident in Orange County, CA
The impact of weather conditions on motorcycle accidents could affect your insurance payout, but working with an attorney can help. Contact Khalil Law Group today at 714-617-7870 for a free consultation with a motorcycle accident attorney in Orange County, CA.