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Who is responsible when a car hydroplanes, crashes?

In late December, six people were injured in a crash on US 127 near Peaks Mill Road in Franklin County after one car hydroplaned and struck another.

According to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, a small pickup truck with a driver and one passenger struck a wet patch on the road, hydroplaned, crossed the center line and hit a passenger car containing a driver and three passengers, one of whom was an infant.

The driver of the pickup was ejected and severely injured. The infant was in a car seat. All were taken to area hospitals for treatment.

What is hydroplaning?

Hydroplaning occurs when a vehicle’s tires hit a wet roadway and the water pressure in the front of the tire pushes water under the tire faster than the tread can separate it, causing the tire to lose contact with the road surface.

The result is a loss of steering, stopping and control.

Experts say the first 10 minutes of a light rain are the most dangerous for hydroplaning. This is when the water mixes with oil residue on the road to create an oil-water mix that affects the road adhesion.

If you experience hydroplaning, the best thing to do is remain calm. Take your foot off the gas and let the car’s momentum slow you down rather than braking. Counter-steer to gain control of the car but don’t jerk the steering wheel. Before it rains, replace your tires when the tread wears down.

Who is responsible?

Hydroplaning is an act of nature and unavoidable in some circumstances. However, there are instances when the driver could be held liable for an accident that occurred when the car was hydroplaning, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving while distracted

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident involving a vehicle that hydroplaned, contact a qualified, experienced attorney to determine the most appropriate response.