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Texas Severe Weather Accidents

Texas Severe Weather Accidents

Texans face a variety of weather that increases the risk of accidents.

Severe weather increases the risk of car accidents.

Texas is one of the warmest states in the country, and generally enjoys comfortable temperatures year-round. However, severe weather is an ever-present threat in Texas. From thunderstorms and snow storms to dense fog and tornadoes, Texans can face a variety of weather that increases the risk of accidents.

Whenever possible, driving in bad weather should be avoided. If you must drive, driving behavior should be adjusted in accordance with the conditions. But no matter how bad the weather is, Mother Nature is almost never an excuse for an accident. If anything, poor road conditions can actually raise the level of care expected of drivers.

Don’t accept excuses about bad weather from another driver and their insurance company. Contact Jim Adler & Associates and let us take the pain out of the car accident claims process.

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Weather-Related Crashes in Texas

Approximately 1 out of 5 crashes nationwide is caused by adverse weather, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Weather-related crashes kill nearly 5,000 people (16% of fatal crashes) and injure more than 418,000 (19% of injury crashes) each year.

Over the last several years, Texas has experienced the most weather-related deaths of any state. Weather events in Texas killed around 500 people and injured over 1,300 people over a recent seven year stretch. These events include winter weather, tornadoes, wind, floods, hurricanes, hail, and rain.

Not all of these weather-related injuries and deaths are attributable to roadway crashes—but a significant number of them are. Accident data from the Texas Department of Transportation shows that, out of 475,000 total crashes statewide, more than 1 out of 10 are attributable to weather conditions. The Texas Department of Insurance confirms that nearly 60,000 Texas crashes are caused each year by poor weather conditions.

Data from car insurance comparison tool Jerry reveals that Texas weather-related accidents are on the rise. In fact, weather related crashes are increasing in Texas more than in any other state. Jerry attributes this to an overall increase in extreme weather conditions due to a changing climate. For example, warmer oceans off the coast of Texas are contributing to more powerful hurricanes, which can make landfall in coastal cities like Houston.

Texas State climatologists expect the odds of extreme rainfall events to increase by 30 – 50% between now and 2036. An increase in winter storms is expected across the South as the Arctic warms and polar winds are pushed further south. This phenomenon was blamed for a winter storm that caused a deadly 130-vehicle pileup on Interstate 35 near Fort Worth. The Texas Tribune confirms that extreme weather events are expected to accelerate over the next 10 to 20 years.

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The Dangers of Driving in Bad Weather

In Texas, every season brings with it unique atmospheric hazards. Snow. Ice. Hail. Sleet. Fog. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Texas drivers can’t afford to ignore Mother Nature. But the top culprit behind Texas weather-related crashes might come as a bit of a surprise.

Rain, by a large margin, causes far more accidents on Texas roadways than any other weather phenomenon. Of the 60,000 or so weather-related crashes reported each year in the state, about 50,000—or 85%—are attributable to rain. It’s not just Texas, either. Nationwide, rain and wet roads cause more car accidents than any other weather condition, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Why is rain so dangerous? It can reduce visibility, make it harder to control or stop your vehicle, and even carry your car away. It takes just 12 inches of water to carry away a passenger car, and two feet of water to carry away a truck or SUV. Hydroplaning occurs when water levels build up and create a thin layer of water between the road and your tires. This puts you at risk of skidding or drifting out of your lane.

Other driving risks related to weather include:

  • Fog: Fog is comprised of low-lying clouds. It reduces visibility and makes it more difficult to spot other vehicles, markers, and objects on the road. Fog caused nearly 200 crashes and killed 72 motorists on Texas roadways in 2019.
  • Snow, sleet, and ice: Winter weather is rare in Houston and San Antonio. It’s less uncommon in Dallas, but as noted, a warming climate could, ironically, bring more winter storms to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. If the winter storms of 2021 and 2022 are any indication, that trend is already under way. Especially when you aren’t used to winter weather, navigating snowy and icy roads can be treacherous. The 2022 winter storm that hit North Texas caused hundreds of crashes.
  • Wind: Wind affects vehicle stability and performance. It can also reduce visibility as sand and other debris is whipped up into blowing clouds, and cause lane obstruction from wind-blown objects ending up on the roadway. Severe crosswinds were blamed for more than 100 Texas crashes in 2020, including two fatalities and dozens of injuries.
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Severe Weather and Accident Liability

Even the safest drivers can be victims of bad weather. The circumstances of a weather-related accident and available insurance coverage will dictate how the claim proceeds.

You may be able to make a claim against your own car insurance in the following situations:

  • If you lose control of your vehicle due to weather and crash into another vehicle or object—or if another vehicle loses control on bad roads and crashes into you—you might be able to make a claim under your collision coverage. This is an optional coverage that not all drivers carry. In addition, collision only covers damage to your vehicle; it does not pay for your medical costs or damage to another person’s property/vehicle.
  • Non-crash damage that results from weather-related incidents, such as a falling ice-covered tree branch or a blowing object that breaks your windshield, could be covered by comprehensive insurance, another type of optional car insurance. Comprehensive can also cover events like fire, floods, and hail.

Now let’s assume that another driver crashes into you during a weather event. Because Texas is an at-fault state, you would make a claim for property damage and injuries with that driver’s insurance company. But they’re claiming that the storm was an “act of God” or that the crash was beyond their control. They can’t be held liable. It wasn’t really their fault. It was the fault of the weather. Do these types of arguments hold up?

Not really. Car insurance operates on the premise that every driver is responsible for their own actions. If a driver is found to be negligent, then their insurance policy compensates the other driver(s). Negligence is based on the idea that each driver owes a “duty of care” to other drivers on the road. This means, among other things, that drivers must follow the rules of the road, focus on driving, pay attention to other motorists, and drive appropriately for the conditions.

When driving conditions change, a driver’s behavior should change, too. While you can safely drive 65 or 70 mph on I-35 during dry, clear conditions, your speed should be considerably lowered when the interstate is wet, icy, or snowy. Following distances should be increased as well because slick roads increase stopping distance.

The actual precautions a driver should take depends on the weather. In heavy fog, for example, a simple maneuver like changing lanes could be dangerous. In rain or snow, tire tread depth plays a significant role in traction. So even if you weren’t speeding or following too close—but have bald tires—poor tire tread depth could be seen as negligence. Not driving with your lights on during a storm could also be evidence of negligence. Again, every driver is responsible for their own vehicle and their own actions. There generally are no exceptions to this rule.

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Jim Adler is Here For You After an Accident

An insurance company can be a fair weather friend. They make big promises about being there when you need them, but when that moment of need arises, they instead delay, deny, or underpay your claim.

In the 30 years that Jim Adler & Associates has been helping injured Texans, we’ve heard every excuse under the sun. Weather is never an excuse for causing an accident. If the insurance company is clouding your claim’s legitimacy, get The Texas Hammer on your side, and get every cent you’re entitled to. Call or contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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