Autumn Accident Hazards

Autumn Accident HazardsThe autumn months in Washington are spectacular. The leaves turning oranges, reds, yellows, golds, and russets can take your breath away. Vine maples, Franklin trees, Washington Hawthorns, red oaks, quaking aspen, dogwoods, and other trees in the local parks and along the highways lure local Vancouver and Battle Ground residents and tourists from across the state.

Some of the best places to see fall foliage in Vancouver are the aptly named Fallen Leaf Lake Park, Salmon Creek Trail and Greenway, Vancouver Lake Regional Park, and Battle Ground Lake State Park. Other great autumn sightseeing locations in Washington include the Washington Park Arboretum, the Olympic Peninsula, Chuckanut Drive, and Mount Rainier.

The autumn weather also brings a fresh chill as the days become shorter and the nights become longer. The season brings the warm Holidays of Halloween and Thanksgiving. These pleasures do come with risks and dangers. The falling leaves, broken branches, and slippery surfaces can make driving and walking hazardous. The cooler temperatures can create icy conditions, and the dark nights can make it more difficult to see.

While we’re pretty sure there aren’t real ghosts and you “probably” won’t encounter any witches on broomsticks, the Halloween carvings and displays can create distractions. During Thanksgiving and the preparation for the winter holidays, there are more travelers on the roads.

At Philbrook Law, our Vancouver and Battle Ground personal injury lawyers often see an increase in accidents and injuries due to the changing seasons. We’re ready to represent you in any type of autumn-related accident.

Vehicle accidents due to autumn weather

The autumn weather conditions can create a variety of serious dangers for drivers.

  • Driver distraction. It’s hard to resist the colorful views while you’re driving on local streets or state routes and highways. Looking at the treetops, mountain ranges, Halloween displays, or taking your eyes off the road creates multiple dangers. Distracted driving means you’re not looking at traffic, thinking about how to respond if there’s an emergency, or knowing how fast you’re traveling.
  • Poor visibility. The autumn leaves are everywhere, including your windshield. Motorists need to clear their windshields before they drive. Foggy and rainy conditions, which often occur in autumn, can make seeing the traffic around you more difficult.
  • Poor traction. It’s hard enough driving on roads when they’re wet. Autumn leaves don’t understand road signs or boundaries. The leaves will blow onto the streets and clog the sides of the road. The combination of wet roads and soggy leaves can make driving in the fall season extremely dangerous.
  • Pedestrian accidents. There are likely to be more pedestrians in autumn than in the summer or winter. The beauty of the season entices everyone to explore their neighborhoods and walk near any setting that has a beautiful collection of colorful leaves. Children return to school at the beginning of September which means they’ll be walking to school or to their local bus stop. Pedestrians who are looking up at the trees are less likely to be looking down at roadways. Children almost by definition are less focused on the dangers of cars, trucks, and other vehicles than adults. Pedestrian accidents are often deadly or cause catastrophic injuries because a human being is no match for the force and speed of several tons of metal.
  • Bicycle accidents. The joy of autumn is an invitation to get on your bicycle for the last time before winter. Often, the view directs the rider’s path more than the traffic around the driver. Many bicyclists will ride in local streets that “seemingly” don’t have much traffic. Bicycle accidents can cause spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and death.

Riding a motorcycle in autumn is also dangerous. In addition to the slipperiness of wet leaves and the obstacle of a pile of leaves on the road, autumn roads often have many potholes that can make riding a motorcycle dangerous. As the hours shorten, many motorcycle riders will be on the road when it’s dark. Motorcyclists need to take proper precautions. The squirrels who joyfully bite into a pumpkin or gather a nut may (please try to avoid them) end up dead on the street – creating a hazard for riders.

Car and truck drivers need to be even more on the lookout for motorcycle riders, pedestrians, and bicycle riders in the fall. The weight of the leaves can cause branches and electrical wires to fall, creating hazards for drivers and pedestrians alike.

Premises liability accidents

Property owners can be held liable if they fail to anticipate and manage the dangers of autumn.

  • Slip and fall accidents. The autumn leaves increase the likelihood of a fall. Neighbors have a responsibility to clear their sidewalks of leaves. Retail stores, professional services, restaurants, and other property owners in Vancouver and Battle Ground need to make sure their parking lots and sidewalks are clear. They need to ensure that leaves and the moisture they bring aren’t tracked into the store.

While property owners can’t be expected to clear every leaf as soon as it lands, property owners should regularly employ maintenance crews to clear or blow away piles of leaves. They should have mats at store entrances to absorb the moisture before the leaves and wetness enter their place of business.

  • Trip and fall accidents. When leaves are on the ground or indoor surfaces, it can be more difficult to see underlying dangers, like broken tiles or uneven surfaces. Even a pile of leaves can create a tripping hazard. Shoppers and guests can easily fall over mums, floral displays, boxes of candy, or other merchandise or marketing attractions that are on the floor.

As the days shorten, property owners need to prepare by ensuring they have the correct lighting they need and the lighting is turned on before it begins to get dark.

Product defect accidents

As the weather gets cooler, homeowners and businesses are likely to begin using electric blankets, portable and space heaters, and other warming devices.  Manufacturers can be liable for any electric shocks, fires, or burn injuries that occur if their devices are defective.

At Philbrook Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers work with investigators to determine what conditions caused your accident and what steps should have been taken to avoid it. Drivers and property owners do have a duty to anticipate the dangers of each season, including autumn. Our Vancouver, WA and Battle Ground, WA attorneys demand compensation for all your economic and personal damages when defendants act irresponsibly. To schedule an appointment, call us at 360-695-3309 or fill out our contact form.