Odds are, you’ve encountered an oncoming vehicle at night with bright headlights or no headlights at all. Unfortunately, headlights are a common cause of car accidents in every state. While a car accident caused by headlights can lead to a liability or injury claim, you may need help determining if you can take legal action against the driver who caused the accident.
This type of case can be complex, so you deserve to have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side if you believe you or your loved one may have a claim.
Common Headlight Issues in Accident Claims
There are a few common headlight issues that could cause an accident and lead to a personal injury or property damage claim.
Lack of Headlights
Many car accidents are caused by a driver who is not paying attention or operating the vehicle safely. In some cases, a crash may be caused by a driver who neglected to turn on their headlights. In dim light or darkness, headlights are especially important to ensure the vehicle is seen by other drivers. When a vehicle is difficult to see, an accident is more likely to occur.
After dark, operating a vehicle without headlights is dangerous. When this situation occurs, fault may be obvious, but filing a claim can still be a challenge.
A lack of headlights isn’t only a problem at night. Low-light situations can occur throughout the day depending on the hour and the weather conditions. Overcast, rainy or foggy days also impact visibility. In these circumstances, a vehicle without headlights could be difficult to spot.
Though many cars are equipped with automatic daytime running lights that help other drivers see the vehicle, a driver may turn these lights off.
Nonfunctional headlights can create hazardous driving conditions, especially at night. Though many drivers avoid driving with broken headlights, some may be unaware of the broken light or may not have taken the steps necessary to address the issue. For example, if only one light has gone out, a driver may delay getting a replacement bulb. Though a single headlight can add some visibility, both headlights need to be functional to ensure a safe driving environment.
Overly Bright Headlights
Sometimes, you may encounter an oncoming car with overly bright headlights. When another driver is driving with their high beams on, you may experience difficulty seeing the road and other vehicles and get in an accident.
Similarly, if you’re being followed closely by a vehicle with excessively bright headlights, the glare in your mirrors and through your rear windshield could create dangerous driving conditions. If a vehicle owner installs overly bright, custom headlights on their car, these lights could obscure your vision.
Do Headlight Laws Affect My Personal Injury Claim?
If you believe you may have a personal injury claim, it’s great to become familiar with the headlight laws in your state to understand how they may affect your claim.
Headlight Laws in PA and NJ
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), when your windshield wipers are on, your headlights should be on. Your daytime running lights alone are not adequate when your wipers are on. Additionally, you should turn your headlights on:
- In fog.
- Between dusk and dawn.
- When visibility is low.
- When traveling in a posted work zone.
- Whenever your headlights would help you see and help others see you.
Turning your headlights on both ensures drivers in oncoming cars can see you and that drivers behind you can see your taillights. Even if you have daytime running lights, you should turn on your headlights to activate your taillights.
When you are following a vehicle or an oncoming vehicle is within 500 feet, you need to dim your high beams. Your headlights should always be functional and in good condition to help other motorists see your vehicle.
In New Jersey, there are also several conditions in which you must use your headlights, such as:
- When visibility is limited to 500 feet or less.
- In fog, smoke, mist or another condition reducing visibility.
- Between one-half hour before sunrise and one-half hour after sunset.
- When you are using your windshield wipers, such as during rain, ice or snow.
Liability for a Car Accident Caused by Headlight Issues
Liability for a car accident caused by bright headlights can fall onto a driver who fails to dim their high beams or installs custom, overly bright headlights. If you were in a crash because of another driver’s bright headlights, you may be able to pursue legal action. However, liability for a car accident caused by failure to dim high beams can be difficult to pursue, as you must prove that the vehicle’s high beams were activated at the time.
Liability for a car accident caused by failure to use headlights can occur in a variety of situations. For example, at sunset, you should turn your headlights on. Operating your vehicle without using your headlights can endanger yourself and others. If another driver fails to use their headlights and causes an accident, you may be able to prove negligence and file a personal injury claim.
Since liability can be difficult to prove in these cases, you’ll want to reach out to an attorney with experience in auto accident claims.
Spear Greenfield’s Car Accident Lawyers
If you need a lawyer with expertise in auto accidents in PA and NJ, demand Rand. Rand Spear the Accident Lawyer is the president of Spear Greenfield and original partner, and our team of car accident attorneys at Spear Greenfield can provide you with the legal assistance you need.
If you’ve been the victim of a car crash, the burden of proof unfortunately rests on your shoulders. That’s why we help you gather useful evidence to help prove your case, such as medical documentation of your injuries, witness statements, a police report from the crash and picture or video evidence of the accident scene.
Request a Free Consultation Regarding Headlights and Car Accident Injury Claims
At Spear Greenfield Personal Injury Attorneys, our attorneys can handle injury claims from car accidents caused by headlights. Along with car accident injury claims, we serve several other injury-related practices, including premises liability, serious injuries and product liability claims.
We serve clients in PA and NJ, and our offices are located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill and Marlton. Whether you need to know how to file a claim or you are unsure of the damages you can request compensation for following a personal injury incident, turn to us at Spear Greenfield. Contact us today to request a free consultation and learn more about headlight issues and car accident liability.