Who is Liable for Bright Headlights Causing Accidents?

Drivers will all agree on how annoying bright headlights are to the human eye. An oncoming car with bright headlights can unsettle any driver, especially on dimly lit roads. The headlight glare can take the focus of other drivers off the road, reduce visibility, and make it extremely difficult to drive.

Car Accidents Due To Headlight Glare By The Numbers

The rise of brighter LED headlights and the prevalence of SUVs and pickup trucks have given drivers new road problems. Many drivers complain about the overpowering intensity of these newer headlights, which are more troublesome when installed in higher SUVs and pickup trucks.

In a study by the NHTSA about glare perception, 30% find the glare from oncoming headlights disturbing.

Around 50% of fatal crashes occur at night. Headlight glare is barely considered one of the considered hazardous actions or causes that lead to fatal car accidents. It is because it is difficult to quantify the crash risk of headlight glare. But it must be noted that headlight glare can reduce visibility and cause discomfort. The NHTSA recognizes headlight glare as a driving risk and can lead to a car accident.

How Have Vehicle Headlights Evolved?

The first modes of transportation used kerosene lamps to light up the roads at night. Then motor vehicles used incandescent and acetylene lamps in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

Sealed beam headlights were introduced in 1939. Sealed halogen lamps became the European-standard headlights in the 1960s. The halogen gas reacted with the tungsten filaments of the lamps to produce a brighter, more even light that lasted longer. Sealed beam headlights became the standard in the USA in the 1970s.

In 1983 came the composite headlights, which made replacing the bulb easier when it burned out. Before composite headlights, the whole lamp set needed to be replaced.

The 1990s saw the birth of high-intensity discharge or xenon lights. They were brighter than halogen and had longer lifespans.

LED headlamps became popular in 2004 when Audi introduced one in the A8.

Types of High Beam Headlights

Among the popular types of vehicle headlights available in the market today are halogen, LED, and high-intensity discharge lights.

  • Halogen Headlights

Halogen headlights have been used for many years. They are easy to produce and replace, making them a staple for many drivers. However, they have a shorter lifespan, lasting an average of 2,500 hours.

  • High-Intensity Discharge Lights

High-intensity discharge lights or HID are a type of headlight that is replacing halogen lamps. In HID lights, gas and metals combine to produce a bright blue light. However, compared to LED and halogen headlights, HID lights generate more glare, which can affect the visibility of oncoming traffic.

  • LED Headlights

LED headlights are more prevalent nowadays and are a staple in newly released vehicles. They are better than their halogen counterparts because of their efficiency and longevity. However, led headlights are also brighter than halogen lights.

The light output of LEDs is around 3,000 lumens, while that of halogen headlights is at 1,000 lumens. While this is beneficial for the driver with the LED headlights, it may cause problems with oncoming drivers, especially elderly drivers.

  • High Beam and Low Beam Lights

Regardless of the type of headlights used, another thing that may bring potential harm to drivers of other motor vehicles is the improper use of high beams. Switching to a high beam is helpful at night. However, drivers must know when to turn on and off a high beam.

When driving at night, normal headlights or low beams are enough to illuminate the road. A high beam is best used to illuminate longer and wider roads. It is not recommended to switch to a high beam when making a turn, as it can surprise an oncoming car driver.

  • Adaptive Driving Beam Headlights

Adaptive driving beams are glare-free lights that promise to be safer for oncoming traffic. It will automatically dim the lights when the road is occupied and will shine more light on vacant roads. The NHTSA approved the installation of these lights just last year.

Why Are Other Drivers Using Overly Bright Headlights?

Many believe that brighter headlights are better for night driving. Of course, brighter headlights provide more visibility for nighttime driving. They are especially useful on long stretches of roads and where the lighting needs improvement. They help the driver see better and anticipate any pedestrian crossing or sudden turns.

However, overly bright headlights can reduce the visibility of oncoming drivers, increasing the risks of a car accident.

When Is a Driver Liable For Bright Headlights and High Beam Headlights?

A driver can be held liable when his use of bright headlights or improper use of high-beam lights leads to a car accident. The victim needs to prove that the crash is caused by excessive glare from the bright headlights. Every driver has the responsibility to operate their vehicles safely in a way that will not bring unreasonable risks to other drivers.

There are two ways in which the liability of the driver can be established. One is when the driver purposefully replaced his headlights with excessively bright, customized headlights. The second way is when the driver has activated his high beam even in a high-traffic area.

Steps To Take When You Get In a Car Accident Due To The Bright Headlights of an Oncoming Vehicle

Regardless if the car accident is due to an oncoming vehicle’s excessively bright headlights, here are the things that every driver should do.

  1. Check on himself and the other passengers.
  2. Pull the car to safety if at all possible.
  3. Check on the other vehicle.
  4. Call 911.
  5. Exchange information and contact details with the other driver.
  6. Document the scene.
  7. Call a personal injury lawyer.

Can An Injured Victim Sue The Driver of an Oncoming Car With Blinding Glare?

Yes. The injured victim can sue the other driver. With the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer, victims can establish the liability of the driver of the other car.

A reputable lawyer can assist the victim in getting fair compensation to cover expenses brought about by the car accident and crash caused by excessive headlight glare.

Types of Compensation For Motor Vehicle Personal Injury Cases

The types of compensation that a victim can recover from a motor vehicle accident are the following:

  • Economic Damages include compensation for medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, property loss or damage, and other out-of-pocket financial losses due to the accident.
  • Non-Economic Damages include compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering, disfigurement, emotional and psychological distress, and reduced quality of life.
  • Wrongful Death Damages – When the accident leads to death, family members are entitled to wrongful death compensation.

What Evidence Do You Need To Prove Your Civil Claim?

Proving that the other driver’s use of bright headlights led to the accident can be difficult. This is why the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer is necessary.

A lawyer will help victims gather evidence to prove the negligence and liability of the other driver at fault. This includes footage from CCTV cameras from surrounding establishments, dashcam footage, and proof that the other driver replaced his headlights with customized and brighter ones.

Get a Free Consultation From a Personal Injury Lawyer Today.

The lawyers from The Clark Law Office are ready to assist you in getting the justice you deserve. Our services are on a contingency fee basis, which means you will only pay us when we recover your rightful damages. Call us now for a free legal consultation with our dedicated car accident lawyers.

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