Sun glare, we have all experienced it at some point in our travels. In most months in Massachusetts, especially the summer, drivers have all been temporarily blinded behind the wheel by bright sun light. But, when a motor vehicle accident happens because of sun glare and seriously injures someone, who, if anyone, is responsible for causing the accident?
Below, I will discuss car crashes caused by sun glare and how responsibility is determined in these situations. Additionally, I will provide you with some ways you can protect yourself and reduce the chances of being seriously injured in an accident during bright sunny conditions.
How Bright Sun Light Contributes to Crashes
If you ask anyone to describe weather conditions that commonly cause car accidents in Massachusetts, most people will say snow and ice. While this is true, what most people don’t realize is that sun glare is a common cause of accidents in not only Massachusetts, but throughout the United States.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported that bright sunlight is a common cause of motor vehicle crashes and is associated with an increased risk of life-threatening injuries from these accidents. In fact, they estimate that the risk of a life-threatening crash was 16% higher during bright sunlight than normal weather.
I’ve experienced dangerous sun glare many times myself. When I drive into Boston for court in the morning from my office in Framingham, MA, I usually take the Mass Pike. I’m heading east toward Boston and we all know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. So, when I’m driving east on the Mass Pike in the early morning hours, the sun is rising and shining right at me. I’m sure all people commuting into Boston will agree, the sun glare on the Mass Pike in the morning can be extremely hazardous and, if drivers are not careful, can result in an accident and serious injuries. The same goes for driving west in the evening hours when the sun is setting. Sometimes, this can be even more dangerous in the evening after a long day at work when drivers may be tired and less attentive.
Determining Responsibility in Car Accidents Caused by Sun Glare
When you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in Massachusetts that was caused by someone else (whether it is a car, truck or motorcycle accident), you bear the burden of establishing that the other driver was negligent and that his or her negligence caused the accident and your injuries. Once you can prove the other driver was negligent, then you can then move on to determining and negotiating for financial compensation for your injuries and damages.
In car accidents that involve sun glare, most drivers think that they can escape legal liability for an accident by blaming the sun. This, however, will not relieve them of liability. Regardless of how bright the sun is, all drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles with reasonable care. You may recall from other article and blogs we have posted, when a driver breaches his duty of reasonable care, he or she will be found liable for causing an accident.
In a case I handled, a driver in Natick, MA crashed right into the rear of another car that had stopped at a crosswalk to let a pedestrian cross. That driver explained to the police that the sun blinded him, and he couldn’t see. He was adamant that he was not responsible for the crash. But, after a brief investigation into the crash, it was determined that the driver was responsible because, even though the sun may have blinded him for just a moment, he was careless by not slowing down when unable to see and by following too close to the vehicle in front of him. His insurance company accepted liability for their insured’s negligent driving and the personal injury claim settled.
Tips for Preventing Sun Glare Accidents
As you can see, sun glare can be very dangerous, especially this time of year. If you are driving when sun light is expected to shine right at you, it is important to take necessary precautions to help avoid an accident and seriously injuring yourself or someone else. Here are a few tips to help you protect yourself from blinding sun glare while driving:
- Wear polarized sunglasses: These sunglasses significantly reduce sun glare and protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays.
- Keep your windshield clean: Take some time and clean your windshield. Dirty windshields will actually increase the glare from the sun.
- Don’t forget about your visor: When driving toward the sun, us your visor. Using your visor along with following these other tips will help reduce the chances of being in a crash.
- Slow down: If you must drive during the time of day (morning or evening) when sun glare is expected to be greatest, make sure you reduce your speed. When the sun is in your eyes, it can it can temporarily blind you. Continuing at high or even regular speeds in hopes the sun will go away, is careless and increases your risk of being seriously injured in a crash.
- Keep a good distance behind other cars: When the sun is bright, be sure to keep a good distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you. It is recommended that you stay at least one car length away from others for every 10 mph. When sun light is an issue, you should increase your distance to be safe.
Following these tips, using common sense and taking extra precautions with sun glare will help reduce the probability of being seriously injured in a car crash.
A Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve
If you have been seriously injured in an accident and the other driver or his insurance company maintains that it wasn’t his fault because of the sun, you should contact an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney.
The Framingham personal injury attorneys at Mahaney & Pappas, LLP offer complimentary consultations where we will evaluate your case and provide you with a fair valuation of your accident claim. We offer contingent fee agreements on car accident cases, which means you don’t pay us anything unless and until we get you the money you deserve for your injuries.
If the other driver is responsible for causing your injuries you deserve to be fairly compensated for your injuries and damages. You shouldn’t settle for less.
To speak with someone on our legal team or to schedule your free meeting, please call (508) 879-3500 or contact us online.