Distractions & sun glare

Can I Claim Sun Glare as a Legal Defense After an Auto Accident?

Broken windshield
A lot of us who drive have trained ourselves to squint and accept sun glare as an inconvenience that comes with the territory. It passes soon enough, with no harm done, right? 

Um, not exactly. In fact, you may be jolted to learn that sun glare is reported as a “critical reason” for 16% of life-threatening accidents caused by environmental conditions, according to a study published by the NIH. 

Sun glare can distract or temporarily blind a driver from seeing vehicles, pedestrians and other obstacles that could cause an accident. And that danger compounds when turning at an intersection where skateboarders, scooters, joggers and bicycles can suddenly appear — at the very moment sun glare, whether direct or reflected, blinds you from a new direction.

If an accident happens because you’re blinded by sun glare, are you at fault?

Whether or not sun glare can legally absolve you from blame in a motor vehicle accident varies from state to state, and also from one insurance company to another. Some states don’t accept solar glare as a defense at all, ruling that a driver has the duty to exercise due care no matter what the driving conditions. Even in states where sun glare can sometimes be admissible, there are typically limits to the acceptance of a sun glare defense. Other factors, including negligence, road conditions and errors or violations by other parties, can come into play.


Get the ADDVISOR here


What might a “duty to exercise due care” look like in the real world? It’s a little like the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Except that with too many vehicle crashes, there is no returning to your pre-accident condition. Prevention when driving is worth vastly more than any cure!

Common recommendations from safety and legal experts include:

  • Keeping your windshield clean inside and out
  • Use your car visor
  • Wear polarized sunglasses
  • Leave extra space between your car and others (including bikers and pedestrians)
  • Try to avoid driving into the sun (often very difficult because routes and driving times are determined by working hours and place of work — and the sun's position changes with the seasons)
  • Exercise extreme caution when turning, especially if your trajectory may bring the sun into your field of vision

Making a turn is often the most dangerous time when it comes to accidents caused by sun glare. The sun may be blocked by the car’s visor on your side, but when you turn it is directly in your face. If you duck and flip the visor to address the new sun direction, that’s another distraction from the road — right when your attention and hands on the wheel are most critical.

A few luxury vehicle manufacturers have recognized this hazard and added a second visor that can be positioned on the side window while continuing to protect your vision of the road ahead with the front visor. If you own one of these cars, you undoubtedly appreciate the extra safety and convenience. But if you’re among the rest of us, you are subjected to an additional level of predictable risk.

The ADDVISOR makes it easy to add this safety feature to virtually any car or truck. A one-of-a-kind sun visor extender that enables you to move your car’s built-in visor to the side window and still have sun protection and high-quality polarized tinting from the front (this is known as Two-Direction Sun Protection), it's a smart way to reduce the danger to yourself, your passengers and others while making driving more enjoyable.

Because regardless of whether sun glare proves to be your responsibility in a legal sense, it is within the scope of things you can manage. We all have loved ones out there. And if you’re anything like me, you probably feel morally obliged to do everything possible to navigate our shared roadways as safely as possible. Enjoy safer driving!

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal, financial, insurance advice, or other advice on any subject matter. No reader of content from this site should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the reader’s state.

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