Washington Nighttime Car Crashes: Why They Happen and Who’s at Fault

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According to the National Safety Council, half of all driving fatalities happen at night even though only one-fourth of vehicle traffic is on the roads at that time. But even if compromised visibility contributed to your collision, there might have been other reasons the crash happened, too. 

If you’ve been involved in a nighttime car accident due to someone else’s negligence, the skilled legal team at Max Meyers Law can walk you through every step and stage of the car accident injury claim process and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. 

How Nighttime Car Accidents Happen 

Everyone knows it’s harder to drive at night. But you might not realize just how many factors make it more dangerous to get behind the wheel after the sun goes down. Let’s break it down. 

Decreased Visibility https://www.maxmeyerslaw.com/blog/washington-state-nighttime-car-accidents.cfm

The first and most obvious danger of driving at night is the lack of visibility.

Darkness, glare, and blinding lights from oncoming traffic make reaction times slower and harm your depth perception. You can only see as far as your headlights, and that may mean trouble. 

Increased Traffic During Rush Hour

Especially in winter months, there’s more traffic on the roads, both in the early morning darkness as people make their way to work and in the twilight of the commute back home. More traffic, especially during short-tempered rush hour, means more accidents. 

Drunk Driving and Driving Under the Influence 

The vast majority of drunk driving accidents take place late at night after bars and restaurants close. It couldn’t happen at a worse time, as motorists under the influence are challenged by reduced reaction times, a lack of distance perception, fine motor skills, and decreased visibility. 

Reckless Driving 

Speeding, street racing, and other forms of reckless driving are also more likely to happen at night. And when they do, the reckless driver is almost always at fault for the damage they cause. 

Fatigued Driving 

Fatigued and drowsy driving can happen at any time, but late at night and into the early morning are the worst times. While falling asleep behind the wheel can obviously cause a crash, simply being tired while driving leads to slowed reaction times and sometimes catastrophic mistakes. 

Broken Headlights and Taillights 

It’s a motorist’s responsibility to make sure their vehicle has working headlights and taillights. They may be liable if they cause a crash at night because their car wasn’t properly maintained. 

Animals in the Road 

Animals are more active in the dawn, dusk, and nighttime hours. Washington State Department of Transportation indicates that most vehicle/animal collisions happen with deer and elk, but occasionally bighorn sheep, moose, and other nocturnal animals attempt to cross the road with disastrous results.

Poor Road Design 

In some cases, a municipality might be at fault for a nighttime accident. If street lights aren’t maintained, roads aren’t properly painted, or signage isn’t viewable at night, these and other issues create hazardous driving conditions.

Preventing Nighttime Car Accidents 

There are a number of steps you can take in order to avoid nighttime car accidents:

  • Keep your windshield, rear windshield, headlights, and windows clean to reduce glare and increase visibility. 
  • Maintain the lights on your vehicle. Missing lights make it more difficult for you to see and also for others to spot you. 
  • Be vigilant for wildlife, especially in rural or wooded areas. 
  • Slow down and obey all traffic laws. 
  • Limit distractions in the car
  • Always wear night-prescription corrective eyewear. 
  • Never drive when tired. If you’re fatigued, pulling over for even a 20-minute nap can refresh you and prevent accidents. 
  • Be aware that if you’re traveling late at night, there’s a greater chance of encountering drivers under the influence.

Possible Damages Recovered From Nighttime Driving Accidents 

When a driver's irresponsible actions cause harm to another motorist, the law provides avenues for victims to seek restitution so they don’t have to bear the costs of the crash. If you’re the victim of a collision, it’s vital to work with an experienced car accident attorney who can assess all the economic and non-economic damages related to your injuries and property loss. At Max Meyers Law, we strategize on many points to help you receive compensation for:  

  • Current and future medical bills 
  • Rehabilitation and medication costs 
  • Lost wages and/or loss of earning power 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Property damage 
  • Punitive damages 

What To Do After a Nighttime Car Accident 

You have two responsibilities in the wake of a collision. First, take care of yourself medically. Have a thorough exam even if you’re not sure your injuries are that serious. Follow all provider directives for treatments and follow-ups.  

Next, take care of yourself legally. It’s essential to be aware of certain responsibilities after an accident and protect yourself in order to make good on options for recovery. So collect all the information you can about your crash, including pictures of the scene, if possible, and write down as many details as you can recall. 

Also, schedule a free consultation with our office right away to determine if you should file a claim. The statute of limitations in Washington for injury cases is three years, so don’t delay. We strive for qualitative results for our clients.
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.