Over the past 20 years, dozens of lawsuits and injury claims have been filed against the South Carolina Department of Transportation on behalf of those killed or severely injured in catastrophic auto accidents involving hydroplaning vehicles. These have resulted in millions of dollars in payouts, settlements, and judgments, according to a report by the Greenville News.
A 2010 study from Clemson University further revealed that hydroplaning accidents were among the leading causes cited in lawsuits against the DOT, with 74% of these cases resulting in awards to the plaintiff.
Were you in a car, motorcycle, or truck accident involving hydroplaning? The right personal injury law firm, like HawkLaw, P.A., can help you file a claim against the state or another driver. HawkLaw Fights to Win. Read on for some general information about hydroplaning accidents and how our firm can help earn you fair compensation after an auto accident.
What is Hydroplaning?
Hydroplaning refers to situations where a vehicle rides on a cushion of water instead of the tire tread meeting the road. Because the water gets between the tires and the road, the vehicle cannot maintain traction and begins to skid uncontrollably and slide. If oil or other slippery surfaces are present, the problem can worsen, leading to catastrophic vehicle accidents.
Hydroplaning is a weather-related condition where your tire cannot scatter the water it encounters on the road surface, usually because there is too much of it. The water that cannot be displaced pushes under the wheels, causing the tires to rise above the road surface.
How Does Hydroplaning Cause Car Accidents?
Hydroplaning causes car accidents by not allowing the tires on the water cushion to grip onto the road. This means the driver has little to no control over maneuvering their vehicle. In bad weather conditions, the chance of car accidents increases measurably. What many people do not realize, however, is that even inclement weather in the form of light precipitation can result in dangerous conditions.
What Weather Causes Hydroplaning?
Standing water, such as puddles, can cause hydroplaning, but even light rain that mixes with oil residue and buildup on a wet road surface can create slippery road conditions that lead to car crashes. The first 10 minutes after a light rain begins is among the most dangerous time on the road. Vehicles that travel above 35 miles per hour can skid and hydroplane on such wet surfaces, creating deadly conditions for motorists.
The right law firm can make all the difference in your case after a car accident resulting from hydroplaning. You may deserve compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. The experienced personal injury attorneys at HawkLaw are ready to listen. Read our disclaimer, then contact us at 888-HAWKLAW or use our online contact form to talk with our team and ask about a free case evaluation*.
How to Prevent a Hydroplaning Car Accident in South Carolina
Basic safety procedures can help you avoid the dangers associated with wet conditions on the road. A few things you can do to help stay safe include the following.
Check Your Tires
Your vehicle’s tires have a great deal to do with the risk of hydroplaning. Double-check your tire pressure and tire tread before heading out on the roads. Overinflated or underinflated tires do not grip the road properly, which can lead to a hydroplaning accident.
Driving at high speeds is the single greatest factor in hydroplaning accidents. In poor road conditions, driving over 35 miles per hour vastly increases the risk of hydroplaning accidents. By the same token, avoid using cruise control. Cruise control reduces your ability to be in control at all times.
Avoid Wet Roadways
Avoid driving on wet roadways when possible. Hydroplaning only happens in situations where there is water on the road that creates a cushion between your tires and the surface. Avoiding wet roads is avoiding the potential to hydroplane.
Steer Into the Fishtail
When you begin to fishtail during hydroplaning, do not jerk the wheel in the opposite direction. Rather, turn the wheel into the skid. This will counteract your loss of control and improve your ability to regain the traction you need to stabilize.
Do Not Slam on the Brakes
Slamming on the brakes may be a reflex, but it can also worsen the problem. Instead of brake slamming, pump your brakes to allow the vehicle to slow without making the skid worse. Many vehicles these days have anti-lock brakes to avoid the dangers of brake slamming, but pumping your brakes is always the best practice.
Hydroplaning is terrifying, but it is important to keep your wits about you. Take a deep breath, stay calm, and gently get off the road if you can. Even before you hydroplane, avoid getting stressed on dangerous roads. The more stressed out you are behind the wheel, the more likely you will make a critical mistake.
Who is at Fault in a Hydroplaning Car Accident?
Liability in a hydroplaning accident can vary based on many factors. Understanding what caused your accident can help your car accident attorney approach your case.
South Carolina uses modified comparative negligence in determining fault for an accident. This means that if you hold any responsibility for the incident, your award can be reduced by a like amount. If you hold more than 50% responsibility, you may be barred from compensation at all. This is why it is so important to have an experienced car accident lawyer in your corner.
In some cases, you may be able to sue the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) for the accident. The South Carolina Tort Claims Act covers these situations. Specifically, to sue the government, you must be able to prove that the state, its agencies, political subdivisions, other government entities, or employees acting within the scope of their official duties caused your losses and damages.
If you can, for example, demonstrate that the bad conditions were due to poor road maintenance by the Department of Transportation, you may be able to make a case for compensation. However, suing the state or any government agency can be very tricky. If you think you have a hydroplaning accident injury case, it is important to seek representation from experienced personal injury attorneys.
The Tire Manufacturer
If your tires have design flaws that result in them not having the traction they should, you may have a case against the tire maker. Such situations fall under product liability laws and can be tricky to pursue. Some tires may be prone to blowouts. Others may simply have poor tread that wears much faster than it should.
The tire manufacturer may be liable if your tires contributed to your car accident. It is important in these cases to get legal advice from an experienced car accident lawyer.
Hydroplaning Accident Cases Are Complex. Call Us Today
Many different factors can lead to a hydroplaning accident. While hydroplaning cases often fall on the driver, other factors beyond your control may also lead to a hydroplaning accident. If you were in an auto accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to collect compensation for your injuries, property damages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
The right auto accident attorney can help you stay within the right time frame for filing a case, take over negotiations with your insurance company, and fight for your right to compensation. At HawkLaw, we represent people like you daily and fight to hold the responsible parties accountable. We believe in an honest and open attorney-client relationship and will stand by your side every step of the way.
Contact the personal injury lawyers at HawkLaw for legal advice, and ask about a free consultation.* Call our law firm at 888-HAWKLAW or fill out our easy online form to speak with a team member today.