Who’s Responsible for Injuries in a Dust Storm?

May 1, 2020

Dust storms are common in many places in the US including some of the arid lands in Eastern Washington. A dust storm can happen anywhere there are strong winds and dry, loose land. In Eastern Washington during periods of dry weather, thunderstorms and other wind events pop up and pull dry dirt and dust from the surface forming a thick, dense cloud of dust.

Many are harmless and fizzle out before long, but if they happen near a highway or freeway, they can cause havoc on travelers.

Dust Storm Causes Multi-Vehicle Accident and Closes Highway Near Dusty

Living up to its namesake, the town of Dusty was cut off from travelers due to a strong and dense dust storm on Monday, April 27, 2020. The Washington State Patrol says that extremely poor visibility led to two cars and a semi-truck to collide and block SR-26 near mile marker 113 not too far from the state fairgrounds.

Police say that visibility was near zero right before the crash, but fortunately, there were no major injuries. Troopers in the area worked fast to set up a detour to divert traffic until the storm calmed down.

Liability in a Dust Storm

So who pays when there is property damage or injuries because of an accident in a dust storm? Can the storm be legally blamed? Generally speaking, in a civil trial, the law is going to look at someone to be responsible for the accident even if bad weather was a factor. This is because the system is set up to compensate victims in an accident, and a storm can’t be sued.

In our system, if a victim wants compensation for their injuries, they are going to have to prove that the other driver was negligent. To establish negligence, the victim has to prove that the other driver didn’t act in a prudent and careful manner the same as a reasonable person would do under the same circumstances.

For example, if one of the cars didn’t slow down and crashed into another car that had reduced speed, then a jury could easily determine that the car should have slowed to a safe speed.

However, if one driver just stopped completely in the road without pulling over or even putting flashers on and was hit by another car, then a jury could reasonably find that the driver that stopped was negligent because stopping suddenly on a freeway where there is little visibility isn’t reasonable.

What to Do if You’ve Been Injured in a Dust Storm

If you were in a dust storm and were injured in an accident, then you need to talk to an attorney right away. While at the scene, get as much information as possible but only after taking care of your immediate medical needs first.

Don’t listen to insurance adjusters or insurance company attorneys who tell you that there is no liability in a dust storm. Or maybe they are trying to put the blame on you. Speak to an attorney who knows what the law says about negligence and dust storms and is on your side.

Contact a Spokane Car Accident Lawyer.

Established in Spokane in 1948, Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S. is committed to providing our clients with the absolute highest quality legal representation. If our Spokane Car Accident Lawyers represent you for your accident case, you have our assurance that we will use our absolute best efforts to win your case. Contact us after any accident resulting in a serious injury for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation. We will only offer you advice which is in your best interest.

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