Could I Be Liable in a Car Accident If the Sun Was in My Eyes..?

Businessman driving early in the morning.

Colorado weather can keep you guessing. The old saying goes, “if you don’t like the weather in Colorado, wait 15 minutes.” While the Rockies create a unique climate for our state, the state of Colorado boasts one consistency when it comes to weather patterns: plenty of sunshine.

With 300 days of sun a year, if you are rear-ended and the other driver’s visibility due to the sun was an issue, would he or she be held liable?  Would you have a claim for any possible damages? The answer is most likely yes.

Sunlight is an inherently pervasive condition as to which there is greater foreseeability, and hence greater opportunity to take precautions, are afforded. Each day the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Most every car comes equipped with sun visors and certainly room to store a pair of sunglasses.

The Colorado Court of Appeals stated in 1980 that a driver who claimed the sun was in his eyes while driving west and stuck a pedestrian whom he failed to see, was negligent as a matter of law. MacMaster v. Coontz, 623 P.2d 71 (Colo. App. 1980). Other states have held similar strong statements regarding the “sun in my eyes” excuse. Several states have stated that the vision of a driver of a motor vehicle, “if so obstructed or so obscured by sunlight to the extent that he or she cannot see things on the road or the street ahead”, it is the duty of the driver to exercise all ordinary, reasonable care and diligence to avoid an injury to anyone who might rightfully be on the street in front of him, even to the extent of pulling over and stopping the vehicle.

While it might not be the “bright”-line rule in every state, for the most part, if a driver hits you from behind and blames the sun, the motor vehicle collision is still his or her fault. If you’re involved in a rear-end motor vehicle collision where the driver who hit you from behind blames any aspect of Colorado’s crazy weather, consult The Sawaya Law Firm about your case. If you’re driving and the sun is affecting your vision, please take the following precautions:

  1. Wear Sunglasses/use your car’s visor.
  2. Clean your windshield – streaks and marks can make the sun’s glare worse
  3. Change your driving route or drive at a different time of day
  4. Reduce speeds
  5. Pull over if necessary and wait 15 minutes – the weather will most likely change!

Michael established The Sawaya Law Firm in 1977 and built it into one of the largest personal injury law firms in Colorado, with more than 20 lawyers and 80 staff members serving clients from five offices located in Denver, Greeley and Colorado Springs. Throughout its history, the firm has stayed true to its 12 Core Values, which emphasize excellence in advocacy and a commitment to providing outstanding client service. Michael studied sociology and economics as an undergraduate student at The Colorado College, and he earned his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law. In addition to being involved in several legal and community organizations, Michael enjoys playing music and cooking, and he has written a book on spiritual matters.