Just about every part of Texas has a wet season, when the clouds start rolling over and the skies regularly pour down rain on our roads and highways. Most drivers who have ever been caught in a heavy downpour realize how the slick surfaces and reduced visibility can make it easy to lose control of the car while driving, and some may have even experienced a car hydroplaning across the road surface briefly.
Even a short hydroplane can cause a loss of control that leads to an accident, so all drivers should know how hydroplaning works, who may be liable for damages if an accident does happen, and what you can do if you’ve been hurt in a crash.
How Hydroplaning Works
Tire tread is designed to help a car push through water on the roadway, and the many grooves and channels of the tire help keep it firmly against the ground. Most roads surfaces are also built with a slight grade or slope to either side so that water will sluice off of the pavement and to the sides, where it can run off and be absorbed into the ground, carried away by a ditch, or flow into a sewer or drainage grate. These factors work together to prevent hydroplaning in most cases.
However, there are a number of circumstances that can cause water to get between the tire and the pavement while the car is in motion. When this happens, the friction that was holding the car in place is gone and the tire cannot maintain contact with the ground. One or more tires are suddenly gliding across the slick surface of a thin sheet of water, and the tires can no longer effectively either move the car uniformly in one direction or provide steering control. The result is that the car skids and slides, usually drifting to one side or another until friction is restored—or the car crashes.
A few tips for driving in the rain from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) so that you can avoid hydroplaning include:
- Slow down to appropriate speeds for the weather conditions
- Avoid hard braking on wet surfaces
- Drive in the tracks of other cars, but maintain a safe following distance
- Avoid driving through standing water
If you do get caught in a hydroplaning situation, the TDI suggests that you avoid sudden braking or turning, turn into the skid, and ease off the gas until you are able to maintain control, then straighten the wheel and brake safely.
Liability in Hydroplaning Accidents
All cars in Texas are also required to have an annual safety check done to ensure that they are roadworthy, but an inspector who fails to note that a tire is damaged or worn to the point of replacement can also be held liable if an accident happens.
A driver who doesn’t adequately maintain his or her vehicle can also be held legally responsible for any accidents that happen. One of the best ways to prevent tire-related accidents any time of the year is to regularly inspect your tires and replace them when they’re worn, especially if you know that it’s going to be raining soon. Manufacturers often recommend that you check the tires at least once a month for proper inflation, remaining tread, and any bulges, uneven wear, or other damage.
In some cases, the roadway itself may be inadequately designed, poorly maintained, or damaged to the point of causing a hazard by allowing water to pool. The city itself may be held liable for accidents if a piece of road doesn’t meet legal standards.
Compensation After a Hydroplaning Accident
If you have been involved in an accident caused by a hydroplaning car, you may be able to seek compensation from the person, business, or agency responsible for the crash. Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your situation, and he or she will be able to present you with your legal options for pursuing the money you may be owed for:
- Hospital bills and emergency medical care
- Follow-up and long-term care
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation
- Repair or replacement of your vehicle and damaged personal property
- Other expenses related to the crash
You may also be able to receive compensation for your pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment, and other non-economic damages. Every accident is unique, so talk to your attorney about the recovery that you may be eligible for in your specific situation.
Get Legal Help Now
The attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP are here to protect your legal rights after a serious automobile accident, and we will be there for you and your family when you need us most. To get started with a free, no-obligation consultation with a serious legal professional today, call us by phone, use our online contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.