Why Driving After a Rainstorm Can Be So Dangerous

Winter traffic jam seen through a windshield

Most car accident lawyers have helped persons seriously injured in a crash occurring shortly after a rainstorm.

How the Danger is Created

The reason that roads are extra dangerous during this period is because, during dry periods, greasy substances such as oil and other lubricants drop from automobiles and trucks and accumulate on roads until they are washed away. As long as the road stays dry, this oily film is relatively harmless to traffic.

However, when the dry spell is interrupted by a rainstorm, the first rain loosens the greasy film of oil and lubricants and creates a slick road surface.

Responding to Insurance Company Excuses

An experienced Coeur d’Alene, ID car accident lawyer must be prepared to deal effectively with insurance claims adjusters who will try to deny liability for the crash by blaming the “accident” on bad weather. The fact is that the law does not excuse negligent drivers from escaping financial responsibility for a crash simply because of bad weather. On the contrary, a person driving in bad weather, whether after a rainstorm or during snow or sleet, must take extra precautions because of the bad weather. For example, a driver must always leave enough distance between his car and the car in front of him so that he can brake safely in the event of an emergency.

A car accident attorney may correctly argue to the claims adjuster or the jury that, during a rainstorm following a dry spell, careful driving means that a motorist must leave extra distance between cars. If a rear end collision occurs because the rear driver was following too closely, that driver’s insurance company is fully liable for all the medical bills, lost wages and other harm sustained by the injured driver and passengers in the front car.

How Science Explains the Fresh Rain Problem

At trial a car accident lawyer will frequently use the expert testimony of an accident reconstruction expert to explain to the jury the mechanics of how a crash occurred. Typically a person with education and training in engineering or physics, this expert can explain the concept of ‘coefficient of friction’ as applied to road conditions. Expressed as a numerical value, the coefficient of friction determines the stopping distance for cars when the brakes are applied. The lower the coefficient of friction the more dangerous the road is. Typically dry roads have a coefficient of friction of .7 and wet roads .4.  However, during a rainstorm after a dry spell the road conditions can drop even further than .4.

If you have been injured in a car crash during a rainstorm you should consult with an experienced car accident lawyer to make sure you receive the financial compensation you deserve from the insurance company of the at-fault driver.


Thanks to our friend and blog author, James Bendell of Bendell Law Firm, for his insight into car accident and personal injury practice.