California weather is unpredictable. So, when you are driving around town and suddenly hydroplane as a result of slippery roadways caused by an unexpected rainstorm, it can be difficult to see how anyone besides you could be at fault for the accident. 

Is a hydroplaning accident automatically my fault?

Nonetheless, it is possible for a California hydroplane accident to be the result of someone else’s negligence, which means that they are not always at-fault accidents. 

If you sustained an injury in a California car accident caused by hydroplaning, the smartest course of action you can take is to work with an experienced lawyer. If someone else was at fault for the crash, you will need an attorney to help protect your rights and prove your case, both of which can be especially challenging in California hydroplane cases. 

If you were hurt in a California car accident that was caused by hydroplaning, you need to speak to the experienced California personal injury attorneys at Beckerman Anderson Law Firm to make sure your right to compensation is protected.

What Causes a Hydroplaning Car Accident?

When Is Hydroplaning an At-Fault Accident?

Hydroplaning takes place when any form of moisture, like standing water or ice, covers the surface of the roadway. More specifically, hydroplaning occurs when a vehicle drives over a wet portion of the road, and its tires lose traction with the asphalt and slide or skid across the top of the ice or water. 

Hydroplaning accidents are often extremely dangerous, particularly if the vehicle is traveling at a high rate of speed. Once tires lose their traction, it is almost impossible to recover control of the hydroplaned vehicle, which often causes it to spin out of control. A hydroplaned vehicle could strike other nearby vehicles, property, or pedestrians, or even run off the side of the road or into oncoming traffic.  

Liability in California

So, does any of this make hydroplaning an at-fault accident? Not by default, no, but it can be. Whether a hydroplaning accident is considered an at-fault accident depends primarily on why and how the hydroplaning happened to begin with. 

A hydroplaning accident could be an at-fault accident if you were driving dangerously, like weaving in between cars, slamming on your brakes for no reason, making extremely sharp turns, or speeding. If your hydroplaning accident took place because you breached your duty of care while driving, it will probably be an at-fault accident. 

It is possible, however, in some instances, for hydroplaning to be caused by another person’s negligence. This could be:

  • Another motorist: If the negligence or recklessness of another motorist forced you to swerve into the standing water that caused you to hydroplane, that other motorist might be held liable. Or if another vehicle came to a sudden stop in the middle of the roadway for no reason, compelling you to slam on your brakes, which, in turn, caused you to hydroplane, they could be found at fault for the accident.
  • Parts manufacturer: If your hydroplane accident occurred due to a defective part that caused your vehicle to malfunction, then you might be able to hold the manufacturer of the faulty part responsible. This kind of scenario is rare, but it does can happen. 
  • Mechanic: If you routinely maintain your vehicle, but the shop or mechanic who fixes it makes a mistake that involves your tires or another part of your vehicle, and that mistake causes you to lose control of your car and hydroplane, you could hold the repair shop or the mechanic accountable. 
  • The city where the accident occurred: In some instances, ice or water may collect on the roadway because of a lack of roadway maintenance or inferior road design. The city or municipality is tasked with fixing or maintaining issues such as these.  So, if your hydroplane accident happened in a place where ice or water should not have been allowed to accumulate for safety reasons, you might be able to bring a claim against the city.  

It is important to remember that putting liability for the accident on another person or entity will place the burden of establishing a preponderance of evidence, which is not an easy thing to prove, squarely on your shoulders. Holding local municipalities liable is especially challenging. Therefore, if you plan to bring a claim and collect financial compensation from another person or entity, you have a much better chance of seeing your case successfully resolved if you have the benefit of a California personal injury lawyer from Beckerman Anderson Law Firm. 

How Can I Prevent a Hydroplane Accident?

Although it is possible to hold someone else accountable for a hydroplaning accident, it is still a smart idea to drive cautiously and obey the rules of the road. In many instances, a combination of your own driving behavior and another driver’s negligence both contributed to the hydroplane accident. In California, this means you are still entitled to receive financial compensation, but it will be decreased by your percentage of fault.  

Some common sense techniques that can help you prevent hydroplaning are:

  • Reduce your speed when driving on roadways that are icy or wet. 
  • If possible, drive around large puddles of water.
  • Exercise extreme caution if you have to drive across a slick patch of the roadway or through standing water.
  • Try not to make sharp or sudden turns where there is standing water or when the roadway is wet.
  • Avoid hard or sudden braking.

If you feel your car begin to hydroplane:

  • Remove your foot from the accelerator
  • Keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel and try to keep it as straight as possible
  • Never slam on your brakes. Instead, allow the car to come to a gradual stop or slowly pump the brake pedal.  

Reach Out to a California Hydroplane Accident Lawyer

If you were injured in a California hydroplaning car accident, our law firm can help. Even if you are unsure whether or not someone else is responsible, we can evaluate the details of your accident and outline your best options for collecting compensation.

Let the California car accident lawyers at the Beckerman Anderson law firm help you navigate the California civil claim process, so you get the financial compensation you are entitled to. Call us at (949) 409-4299  to schedule your free consultation today.