Who Is At Fault When Sun Glare Causes an Auto Accident?

Summer, winter, spring or fall, one road hazard that can impact drivers all year long is sun glare. When you’re driving towards the rising sun in the morning or the setting sun in the afternoon, sun glare can suddenly blind a driver, and lead to an accident. Since sun glare impacts all drivers, whether they’re careful or distracted, who is at fault in this type of accident?

Sun glare can quickly turn an everyday driving situation into a real hazard. Some examples include:

  • Pedestrians crossing the street in front of you, unaware that sun glare prevents you from seeing them
  • Brake lights or turn signals that you don’t see
  • Difficulty detecting road markings or signage
  • Merging

Though drivers involved in accidents may blame sun glare, hoping that it will absolve them of liability, previous claims to this effect have been defeated in court, as it is neither unexpected for the sun to be present at sunrise and sunset nor is it impossible to prepare for or react to sun glare. Drivers faced with sun glare have numerous options, including:

  • Equipping themselves with sunglasses with polarized lenses
  • Using the visor that their vehicle is equipped with
  • Holding their hand up in order to block the sun’s blinding rays
  • Keeping windshields clean
  • Using an alternate route
  • Pulling over until the sun’s position has moved

There is an expectation that automobile drivers are prepared for a wide array of driving conditions, and sun glare is not an unexpected scenario.  There have been numerous personal injury lawsuits examining responsibility for injury and fatalities as a result of sun glare, with some cases ending in municipalities being found liable for positioning crosswalks in areas where sun glare has been a known problem and others holding drivers responsible because they should have anticipated the presence of sun glare. Drivers may argue that they are not responsible based on the “emergency doctrine,” which excuses failure to respond appropriately based on a sudden and unexpected circumstance requiring a speedy decision, but juries have generally disregarded this excuse, as the sun is neither unexpected nor an emergency.

If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of an accident involving sun glare, you need an attorney who has the experience and knowledge to counter arguments seeking to absolve the responsible driver of blame. Contact us today to set up an appointment.