vehicle hydroplaning in California

Who is liable in a hydroplaning accident in California?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

One of the most frightening experiences you can have while driving a car is suddenly losing control of the vehicle while it is in motion. This is exactly what hydroplaning does; when your car’s tires move over puddles of water the tires can lose traction of the road and begin to skid, which can sometimes lead to serious injuries or even deaths.

When a hydroplaning incident occurs, it can often result in expensive medical bills, injuries, losing your employment, loss of enjoyment or life, and a litany of other problems. Considering that a hydroplaning accident is not usually the fault of the driver, is it possible to sue a tire manufacturer, or the city itself for poor road maintenance? Read on to learn about your legal options when you are injured due to a hydroplaning accident in California.

How can you determine liability in a hydroplaning accident?

In California, determining liability in a hydroplaning accident involves considering several factors. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

1. Negligence and Fault:

   – Driver’s Responsibility: The driver of a hydroplaning vehicle may be held liable if they were driving negligently. Negligence can include speeding, not maintaining proper tire tread, or failing to adjust driving to the wet conditions.

   – Other Drivers: If another driver’s actions contributed to the hydroplaning (e.g., cutting off the vehicle), they may share liability.

   – Government Entities: If poor road conditions (like inadequate drainage) contributed to the accident, a government entity responsible for road maintenance might be liable. In California, claims against government entities are subject to specific procedures under the California Tort Claims Act.

2. Comparative Fault Rule:

   – California follows the “pure comparative negligence” rule. This means if the hydroplaning driver is partially at fault, their compensation may be reduced by their percentage of fault. For instance, if a driver is found 30% at fault for hydroplaning, they can only recover 70% of the damages.

3. Evidence and Investigation

   – Proving negligence requires evidence. This can include witness statements, weather reports, photos of the accident scene, and vehicle maintenance records.

4. Insurance Considerations

   – California is an “at-fault” state for car accidents, meaning the driver found at fault is responsible for damages. This is usually handled through insurance claims.

5. Legal Claims and Statute of Limitations

   – If the case goes to court, the statute of limitations in California for personal injury claims is typically two years from the date of the accident.

6. Expert Testimony

   – In complex cases, expert testimony (like accident reconstruction specialists) may be necessary to determine fault and liability.

7. Product Liability

   – If a vehicle defect contributed to the hydroplaning, the manufacturer might be liable under product liability laws.

Each hydroplaning accident is unique, and the determination of liability depends on the specific circumstances of the case. It’s often advisable for those involved in such an accident to consult with a personal injury attorney who can provide guidance based on the specifics of the case and California law.

Is it possible to win a hydroplaning lawsuit?

Yes, it is possible to win a hydroplaning lawsuit. In fact, wet roads have cost the Department of Transportation millions of dollars in lawsuits. The DOT is required to design roads in such a way that water is not allowed to pool on roads and should go down drains that do not backup during rain or flood conditions. In many circumstances it is the default of the city, DOT, or a tire manufacturer when a hydroplaning accident occurs. 

Call a personal injury lawyer today

If you have been injured in a hydroplaning accident, you may be entitled to compensation according to California law. J&Y Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA has decades of experience helping injured Californians to move forward with their lives after an injury. Call us now at (877) 310-2104 for a free consultation to learn about your legal options.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.