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What Should I Know About Hydroplane Car Accidents?

hydroplane car accidents

Driving in wet weather can be challenging for many motorists, and the risk of a car accident increases in poor weather conditions. Visibility may be limited due to the significant downpour of rain or fog, and road conditions can become extremely slippery. While it is not always possible to avoid driving in inclement weather, it is possible to take reasonable precautions to avoid unnecessary risk while traveling.

Hydroplaning is when a car’s tires loose traction with the road surface and slide along a wet surface. The tread in tires is specially designed to channel water away from beneath the tire to maintain contact with the road surface. Sometimes, tires will not be able to channel the water. When this happens, the tire separates from the road surface and loses traction, resulting in hydroplaning.

Hydroplaning is most likely to occur within a few minutes of a light rainfall. The rain mixes with oil residue on the road surface, making it particularly slippery for motorists. Driving over 35 miles per hour under these conditions poses a higher than normal risk of hydroplaning.

How can Hydroplaning be Prevented?

The risk of hydroplaning can be reduced through good car maintenance and careful driving. Tire condition is of utmost importance in avoiding hydroplaning. Tires should be kept properly inflated. They should be rotated and balanced regularly. It is important to replace tires when the tread is worn.

Driving precautions are also key in avoiding hydroplaning car accidents. Slow down when driving in wet conditions, and consider driving in a lower gear. Motorists should not use cruise control when there is a risk of hydroplaning; they need to have more control in poor weather conditions.

Cruise control is a device used to operate a vehicle at a constant speed under steady conditions. The device measures wheel speed to regulate engine output.  The speed of the wheels is constantly being measured and fed into a cruise control system that regulates the engine’s output. When traction has been broken, the sensor cannot reliably detect actual speed. Deactivating the system during a hydroplaning event wastes precious time before it is possible to take appropriate action to regain control.

Other useful driving techniques include driving in the tire tracks left by cars and using center lanes rather than outer lanes. Drivers should avoid puddles and standing water, and they should try not to make sudden maneuvers, like hard braking or making sudden or tight turns.

How Do I Recover from Hydroplaning?

The sooner a driver can recover from hydroplaning, the less likely they are to be involved in a crash. The first step is to reduce speed by taking the foot off the accelerator. Since brake function is unpredictable during a hydroplaning event, braking is not the best first step in regaining control. Sudden braking can cause the car to skid out of control.

To slow down further, gently pump standard breaks or apply slow and even pressure to anti-lock brakes. Next, gently turn the steering wheel in the direction of movement of the car. This enables the tires to better grip the road so that steering control can be regained. Do not attempt to accelerate until the tires achieve traction; this is easy to detect. If necessary to regain composure, consider pulling over at a safe spot to calm down before proceeding.

What Should I Do After a Hydroplane Car Accident?

As a reminder, it is important to get to a safe place after an accident to avoid the risk of getting hit from oncoming traffic. Also, a motorist should contact 9-1-1 to report the accident. It is important to get an ambulance if there is a need for medical attention. Sometimes, adrenaline is triggered or an injured person can go into shock. These conditions can mask the true extent of the injuries. Diagnosing and treating injuries as soon as possible increases the chances for optimal medical care and recovery.

A motorist should also make sure to get a copy of any police report that is produced at the car accident scene. This will serve as important evidence on the circumstances of the crash. The report should include information about the location, weather conditions, witness statements, and other relevant facts.

How is Liability Determined in a Hydroplane Accident?

Establishing liability for most personal injury claims involves proving negligence.  When a duty of care is owed to someone else and that duty is not met and an injury results, then negligence has occurred. Establishing liability in a car accident case requires proof that another party’s negligent actions caused the collision and associated property damage and injuries. There should not be an intervening event that caused the damage or injuries.

Sometimes, conditions entirely out of a driver’s control can cause hydroplaning.  For example, certain road defects can lead to a high risk of hydroplaning.  Improperly designed roadways, lack of appropriate warning signs, and poor maintenance can all be causative factors in instances of hydroplaning. One common design flaw is the lack of sufficient cross slope. This is the slope from the middle of the road to the sides which reduces the pooling of water. This design is why it is best to drive in the center lane during conditions that pose the risk of hydroplaning.

Poor driving can cause a car to hydroplane. If a driver suddenly tries to stop or brakes hard in wet conditions, then they are likely to hydroplane. This could cause drivers behind them to need to try to maneuver around the car to avoid a crash.  The driver of the hydroplaning vehicle has potentially caused the crash.

A successful claim to recover medical costs and other expenses will require adequate evidence that supports the case. The analysis of a car crash to determine negligence involves a thorough understanding of the existing road conditions, lighting, weather, location of other cars and objects in the area, and more. It is important to have competent legal advice to have a good chance of successfully establishing liability in a car crash case. This is especially true regarding conditions that arise during a hydroplaning event. The path of the hydroplaning vehicle is unpredictable and needs to be understood as part of developing the evidence for the case.

It is also important to file a claim within the applicable statute of limitations, which varies from state to state. It is also vital for a car accident victim to make sure that they preserve all relevant evidence. If a car accident claim is bought to seek recovery of medical expenses, then records of all doctor visits, prescribed medications, and treatment must be maintained. In addition, if compensation of other losses, such as pain and suffering, is also being sought, it will be important to document the degree of pain and suffering and associated consequences. Since it may be difficult to prove that an outside party caused a hydroplane accident, it is advantageous for a victim to speak to a lawyer right away.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Victims with Complicated Hydroplane Collision Cases

Safe driving can prevent many hydroplane car accidents, but drivers cannot control some outside factors. There might be a liable party in your hydroplane car accident case, and a Philadelphia car accident lawyer at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help you determine if you are eligible for damages. For more information and a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-569-8488. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.