Winter driving is always dangerous and requires certain precautions to avoid accidents. Some people may even forgo driving when the roads are full of snow and ice. However, truck drivers do not have this choice, and large commercial vehicles drive across the country throughout the winter months.
- Why Is Driving More Dangerous in Winter Weather Conditions?
- Why Are Truck Collisions So Devastating?
- Common Causes of Truck Accidents During Winter
- Potential Injuries in an Ice Accident
- How to Seek Compensation for a Weather-Related Truck Collision
- Do You Need a Lawyer?
- Winter Driving Tips
- Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney Today
Unfortunately, the winter weather makes an inherently risky job like truck driving even more dangerous. Sleek, icy roads, poor visibility, and snow storms contribute to a big chunk of truck accidents, putting truck drivers, other motorists, and pedestrians at risk.
Truck operators must adjust their driving to avoid accidents in extreme weather. Sadly, driver error still happens, but mistakes have more devastating consequences in icy conditions.
Were you or a loved one injured in a semi-truck accident during winter? If so, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you seek the justice you deserve.
Contact our truck accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.
Why Is Driving More Dangerous in Winter Weather Conditions?
More than 70% of the country’s roads are in snowy regions, where almost 70% of the current population lives. During winter, ice and snow reduce friction on these roads, leading to slower speeds, reduced vehicle maneuverability, decreased roadway capacity, and elevated accident risk.
According to the US Department of Transportation, nearly a quarter of yearly weather-related motor vehicle accidents occur on snowy or icy pavements. About 15% of crashes happen during snowfall or sleet.
Aside from snow and sleet, the following weather conditions increase accident risk for all vehicles:
- Black Ice: Regular ice and snow are visible on the pavement in the winter weather, but black ice is nearly invisible. It makes roads slippery and may interfere with braking and steering.
- Freezing Rain: When atmosphere temperatures are warm but the ground is cold, the rain may freeze as it touches the ground, creating thin, wet ice sheets. Frozen rain is not dangerous in itself but can make roads slippery. It can also add weight to power lines and trees, which can break and fall on the road.
- Blizzards and Snowstorms: A blizzard or winter storm can cause accidents by reducing visibility and creating icy roads with frigid temperatures.
- Strong Winds: Besides frigid temperatures, the winter weather may come with howling winds that can reduce vehicle control and performance and turn objects into projectiles. High winds can also overturn top-heavy vehicles like trucks.
Why Are Truck Collisions So Devastating?
The average tractor-trailer truck weighs about 72 feet long and around 80,000 pounds (including cargo). Due to their enormous mass and size, semi-trucks have the potential to cause severe injuries, property damage, and death.
Furthermore, semi-trucks have high centers of gravity, making it easy for them to become unstable and lose control on the road. This characteristic also adds to the risk of rollovers, an accident wherein a vehicle flips on its side or roof.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents During Winter
All motorists, primarily commercial drivers, must adjust their driving to the weather conditions to avoid mishaps. Necessary precautions include driving slowly, avoiding unnecessary lane changes, maintaining vehicles, and increasing the following distance.
Collisions happen when truck drivers do not adhere to winter driving safety precautions. Acts of negligence that lead to weather-related crashes include:
- Speeding: Wet or icy conditions reduce road friction, elevating the risk of tires slipping and losing vehicle control. Driving beyond the maximum speed limit further adds to these dangers.
- Distracted Driving: The hazardous conditions during freezing weather reduce the capacity on roads and highways, meaning drivers may have to share a tighter space. A distracted truck driver can cause an accident in mere seconds if they fail to avoid a hazardous situation in time.
- Reckless Driving: Tailgating, improper lane changing, jackrabbit braking, and other dangerous driving behaviors increase the risk of collision, especially for large cars and trucks. Large vehicles need a more significant following distance from other vehicles because they need more time to stop. If truck operators tailgate or change lanes abruptly, they may collide with other vehicles.
- Intoxicated Driving: Freezing temperatures may push some commercial drivers to drink on the job so they can warm up. However, drunk driving only adds to the long list of weather-related driving hazards, as alcohol can lead to poor judgment, poor concentration, lack of coordination, and slow reaction time.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance: Trucking companies must ensure that their trucks are in proper working condition, especially during the winter months. Otherwise, malfunctions can occur, such as tire blowouts, spark plug failures, brake defects, engine issues, etc.
Aside from driver negligence, other causes of winter accidents include potholes, uncleared snow, hidden debris, black ice, and other environmental hazards under the government’s responsibility.
Potential Injuries in an Ice Accident
A collision with a large truck can lead to severe harm, such as:
- Head trauma, concussions, contusions, skull fractures
- Neck trauma, whiplash, neck fractures
- Spinal cord damage
- Burns, bruises, lacerations
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Mental health conditions, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety
Drivers stuck in the ice or snow after a collision may also suffer hypothermia and frostbite, potentially fatal if not treated immediately.
How to Seek Compensation for a Weather-Related Truck Collision
Drivers must adjust to hazardous road conditions during inclement weather to avoid injuring others. Unfortunately, not all drivers are careful. You could be entitled to financial compensation if a negligent truck driver injured you.
To file a personal injury claim, you must prove that:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you. All drivers are legally obligated to act reasonably and prudently to avoid harming others on roadways. Part of this responsibility is adjusting to weather conditions.
- The defendant breached this duty of care. A ‘breach of duty’ is typically a negligent act that causes or creates a risk of harm to others. Under personal injury law, negligence can range from hiring inexperienced drivers to not installing proper safety equipment.
- You suffered a significant injury. You must prove that you suffered substantial physical, emotional, or financial harm due to the incident.
- The defendant’s negligence directly led to your damages. You must prove that the defendant’s actions (or inaction) directly caused your losses such as medical bills, lost income, property damage, etc.
Who is Liable for Your Losses?
There are several potential defendants in a truck collision, including:
- Truck operators that do not adjust their driving despite hazardous conditions and act carelessly while knowing their actions can harm others
- Trucking companies that fail to train large truck drivers, do not maintain trucks properly, hire inexperienced drivers, etc.
- Manufacturers of defective truck equipment
- Other drivers that act negligently, causing or contributing to a weather-related truck crash
- Pedestrians that jaywalk, dart out onto the street, or place obstructions on the road
- Local governments that fail to maintain roadways and highways during inclement weather, e.g., not removing ice, clearing snow, directing traffic during a storm, etc.
What Damages Can You Recover in a Personal Injury Claim?
Our personal injury lawyers will ensure that all liable parties are held responsible for your damages, including:
- Medical Bills: Expenses for hospitalization, emergency transportation, medication, surgery, therapy, etc.
- Disability: Mobility aid expenses, rehabilitation costs, compensation for loss of quality of life, and other related damages if you become permanently disabled.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical and emotional harm, physical pain, mental trauma, emotional anguish, etc.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for quality or enjoyment of life lost due to the accident.
- Lost Wages: Compensation for salaries, wages, benefits, and revenue lost while recovering or caring for an injured loved one.
- Property Damage: Replacement or repair expenses for a vehicle or personal belongings damaged or lost in the accident.
- Wrongful Death: Funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical expenses, and other related damages if your loved one passes away in a weather-related truck collision.
- Punitive Damages: Additional compensation used to punish at-fault parties for gross negligence and deter similar harmful behavior in the future.
How Do You Recover a Fair Settlement?
If you get into an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you could file a claim with the following:
- The trucking company’s general liability insurance provider
- Other drivers’ personal auto insurance companies
- Your auto insurance company
You may receive a low initial offer regardless of where you file your claim. It is standard practice for insurance companies to attempt to pay as little as possible to claimants because they are businesses at the end of the day.
To ensure you receive fair compensation, our legal team will build a strong case and negotiate with the defendant’s insurer.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
Insurance and trucking companies will do everything possible to limit their liability for accidents. Hence, you will need an experienced attorney to help ensure the defendants are held responsible for their negligence.
Our attorneys will fortify your personal injury claim by:
- Investigating how the crash occurred
- Establishing the negligence of liable parties
- Calculating the extent of your damages
- Collecting substantial evidence to support your claim
- Filing a personal injury claim with insurers
- Negotiating a fair settlement
- Filing a lawsuit in civil court, if necessary
Winter Driving Tips
Winter brings dangerous weather conditions that require proper safety measures, such as:
- Check the weather report before leaving the house; prepare accordingly
- Consider staying in when there are strong winds or extreme temperatures
- Never drive in a storm or other severe weather conditions
- Reduce speed if the ground is wet, icy, or frozen, and if you are going behind slow cars
- Avoid driving when there is rain but the ground is frozen; there is a high chance of black ice forming
- Increase following distance between other vehicles, especially when you are driving behind a tractor-trailer
- Be mindful of large vehicles turning or merging lanes on highways
- Stay out of a truck’s blind spot; truck drivers do not always see smaller vehicles in their mirrors
- Check your brakes, tires, fuel, lights, windshield wipers, and other equipment before you leave; ice and frigid temperatures can cause vehicles to malfunction
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney Today
The winter weather comes with many hazardous conditions that everyone must avoid. This responsibility is heavier on truck operators, as trucks can cause severe damage to smaller vehicles and easily kill occupants.
If you or a loved one got hurt in an accident caused by a negligent driver, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC could help.
Our experienced lawyers recover fair compensation for victims through out-of-court settlements and litigation.
Contact our law firm at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.
Our lawyers handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis. This agreement ensures you don’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win your case.