The Sun Glare “Defense”

Imagine being in a car accident in the late afternoon. The other driver gets out of their car and says “I had sun glare for only a second and I didn’t see you!” The other driver may have been blinded, but now you’re hurt and without a car. Does sun glare excuse them from compensating you for your losses?

How Does Sun Glare Work?

The source of sun glare is either direct or reflected sunlight. The intense exposure of the sunlight disables your ability to contrast the light from what you are focusing on: the road.

Your pupil reacts to the glare by constricting to minimize the scattered light inside your eyeball. Ultimately, the effect is temporary blindness. But several moments of lost sight can be dangerous on a crowded road while driving at the speed limit.

Does Sun Glare Cause Many Accidents? And What Kind?

Sun glare is surprisingly a common factor in car accidents. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration accounts for sun glare as a “critical reason” for 16% of environmental-related accidents. That is the second highest environmental factor after slick roads.

Sun glare does not just endanger drivers in other cars on the road. Because glare blocks so much from your field of vision, smaller objects can be totally obscured. That means glare can cause a driver to be completely unaware of motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who are nearby.

The Law in Nevada

Is blindness from sun glare a defense to a car accident in Nevada? The short answer is: yes, but only under very narrow circumstances. The more important legal question to ask is: how did the sun glare show negligence in your accident?

In 1961 the Supreme Court of Nevada heard a car accident case called Johnson v. Brown. Howard Johnson, then 5 year old, darted across the street when Forest Brown struck him while driving the speed limit at 25 miles per hour. The accident occurred in July at 7:30 pm, which was 10 minutes before sunset. Brown did not see Johnson because of the sun glare. However, the police said Brown was driving normally at the time of the accident. They said it was simply an accident.

Howard’s legal team insisted that driving normally was not enough when sun glare is a possibility. The driver must take more precautions. But the Court did not agree. Drivers are at fault for car accidents after they did something careless to cause it. The Court recognized that it was bad policy to punish a driver who was otherwise obeying all traffic laws.

Therefore, a driver is at fault if they were temporarily blinded by sun glare and otherwise driving negligently.

How We Pursue Your Accident Claim

The rule from Johnson v. Brown does not mean you cannot pursue an accident claim involving sun glare. The personal injury professionals at Sam & Ash, LLP use their experience with these accidents to look for the negligence to build your case. Every case is different and presents unique facts. However, many sun glare cases have involved the following:

  • No Sunglasses – A driver without sunglasses who has other vision problems may be driving negligently.
  • When to Drive Defensively – A careful driver should slow down and keep more space between vehicles if they consistently experience blindness during the trip.
  • Fatigue at Sunrise or Sunset – A tired driver on the road early in the morning or later in the afternoon is especially impaired by sun glare.

Moderating Sun Glare

Even if you were driving responsibly, sun glare can cause your accident. Mitigating the effect of sun glare is easier than paying doctor’s and mechanic’s bills, so be prepared for the sun:

  • Regularly clean your windshield, including the interior side.
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce reflected glare from other vehicles.
  • Keep your headlights on to help other blinded drivers see you.
  • Focus on lane markers on the road to keep you oriented.
  • Consider tinting your front windows to block excess sunlight.

Call Sam & Ash, LLP to Know Your Rights

When someone crashes in to your car and blames it on the sun, get a second opinion. Call Sam & Ash, LLP to find out if your accident should be compensated. We’ll be available even after the sun sets for a free consultation. Speak with a personal injury professional now at 1 (800) 304-2000.

Author: Ash Watkins

Ash started her legal career defending insurance companies against injury victims. She saw how insurance companies treated people who had legitimate injury claims. But she also saw how notoriously sleazy the personal injury lawyers were. Neither side was focused on the injured person, so she decided to do something about it.