Ice, snow, and thunderstorms can have an impact on a personal injury case. In many cases, they will complicate your claim, ensuring you need an even stronger legal team to help you pursue a settlement.
This is because personal injury cases don’t compensate you because you got hurt. They compensate you because someone acted in a negligent fashion, and you then got hurt as a direct result of their behavior. If the defense can show weather, and not negligence, caused the injury then they may be able to win the case and avoid paying.
Of course, in many cases the injury was caused both by weather conditions and by negligence. You’ll require a skilled personal injury attorney to help tease out what was negligence and what was weather, someone who can present that narrative in a convincing, coherent way that gets you paid.
In a Car Accident Case
Each driver’s conduct will be examined in light of prevailing weather conditions. For example, it’s important to slow down in heavy rain or snows.
Each driver is held to a slightly higher standard than whether they were following traffic laws: prevailing weather conditions do demand that drivers take extra care to avoid accidents.
If the other driver was at-fault the insurance company will likely try to push the narrative that the accident was “unavoidable,” that is, caused entirely by the weather conditions and through no fault of the driver’s own. Fortunately if this is not the case there will generally be evidence to the contrary.
In a Slip and Fall Case
Weather often plays a role in Alberta slip and fall claims. It’s common for people to slip and fall on icy sidewalks during the winter, for example.
If the property owner was negligent in how they handled those conditions you might have a case. For example, if the snow has not been shoveled or removed on a timely schedule then the accident can be considered to be the property owner’s fault.
However, the property owner does have a little time to clear up conditions, within reason, and is not expected to handle snowfall instantly. In addition, you bear some responsibility for where you walk, unless you happened across a hidden hazard, such as one caused by a melt-freeze cycle.
Always document weather conditions!
One of the first things you should do, if you are medically capable of doing so, any time you take an injury either from a car accident or a slip and fall, is to take photographs so you have case evidence. This includes evidence of prevailing weather conditions.
If you’re on the road, take photos of road conditions. If you just had a slip and fall then take photos of the immediate area. This information will be invaluable when it’s time to start talking about a settlement.
Do not assume that failing to do this will help your case. Yes, weather complicates your claim. Yet there’s nothing to gain by downplaying weather conditions, either. Your attorney needs to be able to work with the facts of your case, and that means being able to account for every factor that might have caused or impacted your accident.