Proving Liability in Nighttime Car Accidents - Adamson Ahdoot

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Nighttime Car Accidents: Factors, Risks, and Legal Considerations

June 21, 2023 Alan Ahdoot
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People hitting the road at night are more likely to get injured in a car accident. Unlike daytime, driving after dark presents many serious risks, including decreased visibility and nighttime fatigue. But, how can liability be proven in case of nighttime car accidents?

Find out more about the dangers of nighttime driving and understand your legal options to seek proper compensation for your injuries and other non-economical damages.

The Factors That Contribute to Nighttime Car Accidents

When the sun sets, and the roads become less crowded, it’s easy to assume that driving at night is safer. However, numerous factors come into play, making nighttime accidents more catastrophic or even fatal. 

Reduced Visibility

Despite adequate street lighting, driving at night poses challenges due to decreased visibility. Factors such as heavy downpours, snowfall, and even fog can further hinder your ability to navigate the road safely.

Increased Fatigue

Many drivers find themselves on the road all day and night, battling exhaustion and struggling to stay awake. This fatigue can lead to drowsiness and reckless driving, significantly elevating the risk of a car crash. If you’re driving home from a night shift, the chances of being involved in an accident can further escalate.

Windshield Glares

In addition to the limited lighting, dirt, and dust marks on your windshield can obstruct a driver’s vision at night. This compromised visibility increases the chances of colliding with other vehicles or pedestrians, who may be less visible in the dark.

Animals or Objects on the Road

Keeping your attention focused on the road at night becomes harder, heightening the risk of encountering animals crossing your path or unexpected objects obstructing your way. Inclement weather conditions and a dirty windshield exacerbate this loss of focus.

Headlights of Other Vehicles

Bright headlights can temporarily blind drivers, causing disorientation and potentially leading to accidents. Some drivers fail to adjust their headlights appropriately, unknowingly posing risks to other road users.

The Risks Involved in Nighttime Car Accidents

Here are some of the risks to watch out for when you’re out there in the dark.

Impaired Vision or Temporary Blindness

Many individuals experience challenges with their visual perception, irrespective of age. Conditions like glaucoma and cataract afflict numerous drivers, and their impact intensifies at night when exposed to the glaring headlights of oncoming vehicles. Moreover, a driver’s color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised during nighttime driving, as our eyes continuously adjust to changing lights.

More Impaired Drivers on the Road

While driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other substances is strictly forbidden, some individuals still choose to get behind the wheel while intoxicated, particularly at night. This unfortunate reality places sober drivers at risk of colliding with impaired motorists, elevating the potential for accidents.

Speed-Related Crashes

With fewer vehicles on the road at night, some drivers succumb to the temptation of exceeding speed limits. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that a significant number of fatal accidents are caused by reckless driving due to speeding. This dangerous behavior endangers not only the speeding driver but also passengers, other vehicles, and pedestrians sharing the road.

Common Injuries in Nighttime Car Accidents

Nighttime driving is often accompanied by excessive speed, amplifying the risk of severe injuries. Motorists traveling at high speeds face a range of potential harms, including:

  • Fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Wrongful death

Legal Considerations for Compensation

Negligence stands as the primary cause of nighttime car accidents. Establishing liability for nighttime car accident cases involves a thorough examination of the scene of the incident. Likewise, authorities examine the damage to the vehicle to determine who is at fault.

Because California follows a Comparative Negligence system, even if you are partly responsible for the accident, you can still recover compensation.

a white car driving at night with headlights on
Nighttime accident victims are entitled to receive compensation for their medical bills and other non-economical damages.

In California, in cases of personal injury liability for nighttime car accidents, victims may seek compensation for the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Temporary disability or permanent disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Funeral and burial expenses

California’s Night Driving Law

Under California’s night driving law, motorists are required to use their headlights 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise. Furthermore, drivers also need to turn their headlights on during a storm or other bad weather conditions.

The state strictly prohibits provisional license holders on the road between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Furthermore, they are not allowed to transport anyone below the age of 20 unless there is a licensed driver over 25 in the vehicle.

However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), provisional drivers can operate after daytime hours if they provide proof of consent or a written authorization note from a parent, teacher, doctor, or employer.

Provisional drivers may drive if they need to travel due to the following reasons:

  • Medical emergency if there is no other transportation available
  • Driving to school
  • Operating a vehicle for a job
  • Transporting immediate family

How to Prevent Nighttime Accidents

Driving in poorly lit areas can pose significant dangers, but there are steps you can take to minimize the likelihood of serious injuries or even fatal outcomes. Discover how you can proactively prevent involvement in nighttime car accidents with these essential tips:

  • Do not drink and drive: After attending a party or if you’re feeling too drowsy to drive, prioritize your safety by hailing a cab or relying on a designated driver. Avoiding alcohol-impaired driving is crucial to protecting yourself and others on the road.
  • Clean your windshield regularly: Regularly clean your windshield to eliminate dust and dirt that can impair your visibility while driving at night. Maintaining your vehicle’s cleanliness ensures clearer sight lines and reduces the risk of accidents.
  • Avoid texting or engaging in distracting activities: Stay focused on the road by refraining from texting or engaging in other activities that divert your attention. Be vigilant for crossing animals, pedestrians, and oncoming vehicles. Driving demands your full concentration.
  • Get your eyes checked regularly: Take responsibility for your visual health by scheduling routine eye examinations. Ensuring good vision is essential, particularly for nighttime driving, when our eyes adjust to varying light conditions.
  • Avoid tailgating other vehicles: Avoid tailgating the vehicle in front of you. Allowing ample space between cars reduces the likelihood of rear-end collisions, especially if the leading driver makes sudden stops.
  • Observe the speed limit: Adjust your driving speed to adhere to posted speed limits. Remember, reduced visibility at night makes it harder to react promptly to unexpected road conditions. Exercising caution and avoiding excessive speed enhance your safety.
  • Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is vital for optimal road performance. Avoid driving while excessively fatigued, as drowsiness impairs focus and reaction times. Prioritize rest to ensure you’re alert and attentive behind the wheel.

Hire a Car Accident Lawyer at Adamson Ahdoot

Injured in a motor vehicle incident at night? Seek the legal assistance of an experienced attorney at Adamson Ahdoot. With our help, we are able to bring liability to those at fault for nighttime car vehicle accidents.

Call us at (800) 310-1606 today to schedule your free consultation with a premier injury attorney. We offer free and no-obligation consultations in English or Spanish.

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