It was recently reported by the Boston Herald that a 6 year old Westwood boy struck by a car while crossing the street died of his injuries. The police stated that the incident appeared to have been an accident due to the driver’s vision being obscured by sun glare. While this is an absolutely horrific accident and outcome, it raises an issue that often occurs in Massachusetts pedestrian accident cases.
Pedestrian Accident Claims in General
A pedestrian who is hit and injured by a motor vehicle has the right in Massachusetts to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the vehicle’s driver that hit him. In that claim or lawsuit the pedestrian has the burden of proving or demonstrating that the driver of the motor vehicle was negligent. Negligence is a civil cause of action on which a claim or lawsuit may be filed for money damages to compensate the injured party.
The injured pedestrian will seek financial compensation for the damages he or she sustained. The damages include, among other losses, out of pocket medical bills and expenses, lost wages or earnings, and pain and suffering. In the sad news report about the 6 year old boy, the family can file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek additional damages for the loss of their child.
How Sun Glare Can Impact a Pedestrian Accident Case
Sun glare can best be described as sun light obstructing your windshield during sunset and sunrise hours, making it incredibly difficult to see anything in front of your vehicle. When the sun is low on the horizon, the angle of the direct sunlight can create a situation of temporary blindness, distort or make traffic control devices invisible and make driving, even in slow moving traffic, terribly dangerous. And it is during the fall and winter months that sun glare is at its worst because the sun is naturally lower in the sky.
What this means is that sun glare is greatest during the morning and evening commutes. On a recent commute home from Boston on the Massachusetts Turnpike, there was a period of minutes where it was virtually impossible to see road ahead. Traffic was forced to move at crawls pace and yet there were still cars on the side of the road with drivers exchanging information.
So, in a pedestrian accident case, a driver whose vision was obscured by sun glare, may still be held responsible for striking a pedestrian, even though it may have been considered an accident. Arguments can be made that, perhaps, the driver was driving too fast based on the conditions, or failed to take proper precaution when driving with an obstructed view. A driver will still have the duty to operate their motor vehicle safely despite the weather conditions. Any breach of that duty may result in the driver being held responsible for the injuries and losses an accident causes.
Tips for Motorists Driving With Sun Glare
Sun glare can happen instantaneously. You can be driving on secondary roads in a shaded area when the sun, without warning, blinds you through a space in the trees. If you’re not giving driving your full attention you may not react to changes in the road or obstructions ahead. Sun glare isn’t limited to driving towards the sun. It also has a dangerous effect when the sun is setting or rising it is behind you while driving. During these times the sunlight bounces off your rear view mirror or reflects in front of you causing momentary blindness.
The U.S. government reported that approximately 16.5% of all “atmospheric condition” crashes were caused by sun glare. There are many things you can do to prepare for these conditions and make yourself a safer driver.
#1. SLOW DOWN. It may seem obvious to many but slowing down, way down, compensates for the decrease in reaction time due to sun glare blindness.
#2. LEAVE GREATER SPACE BETWEEN YOU AND THE OTHER CAR. Leaving a greater distance between vehicles can mean the difference between stopping safely or colliding with the vehicle in front of you should the driver hit the brakes suddenly.
#3. KEEP YOUR DASH CLUTTER FREE. Sunlight will add further reflection to any shiny items on your dash. You don’t need to add more issues to an already difficult driving situation.
#4. SUN GLASSES AND SUN VISORS. A good pair of polarized sun glasses are an essential safety tool for any driver year round. They won’t give perfect vision in a sun glare situation but can be of great help. Your car’s sun visors and secondary sun visors (available at stores) are very useful in reducing the effect of glare. Be mindful that visors can also reduce your overall visibility.
#5. KEEP YOUR WINDSHIELD CLEAN. A clean windshield is easier to see out of regardless of the weather condition. Regularly fill your windshield washer container and invest in a quality pair of windshield wipers.
It is suggested that drivers should avoid times when sun glare is at its worst. Somehow this is a luxury many of us cannot afford. Our incredibly busy schedules don’t allow us to stop and wait for the sun to change its position in the sky. But keep in mind these steps to reduce the likelihood of sun glare accidents.
Speak With An Experienced Massachusetts Injury Lawyer Today
Mahaney & Pappas, LLP has over 35 years of experience handling personal injury claims. We have successfully represented clients, who were hit and seriously injured by cars while walking. Our experience and knowledge of injury cases offer accident victims an advantage against insurance companies in getting fair compensation for injuries.
Call us today at (508) 879-3500 or contact us online to get a case evaluation or answers to your questions.