Poor Weather Truck Accident
Were you the victim of a truck accident caused by someone else's negligence or lost a loved one through a wrongful death caused by poor weather conditions? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys provide legal representation for injured parties harmed by large trucking companies and their commercial drivers.
Call our truck accident law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All sensitive or confidential information you share with our truck accident attorneys remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
The safety of life on the road is in your hands because truck accidents can have immense consequences, often leading to severe injuries and death. Truck drivers are responsible for ensuring that their trucks meet all regulations and standards to ensure a safe journey.
When large trucks are not correctly secured, the loosely strapped cargo can fall off onto other vehicles. The trucker's negligence poses an extreme risk to themselves and those who share the roads with them because accidents often result in catastrophic tragedies, including fatal crashes.
Trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds which means they need special care to avoid problems. For example, a truck's belongings can fall off the commercial vehicle and hit other cars.
Catastrophic accidents are caused when drivers and companies do not take necessary precautions to maintain equipment, which results in unsafe trucks on the road that pose a hazard to all drivers.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations Require Truck Maintenance
Neglecting commercial truck maintenance could result in disastrous consequences. Therefore, the United States government enforces safety protocols and regulations for the commercial trucking industry.
The government's efforts make it easier for injured car drivers to file lawsuits against negligent companies for failing to follow basic maintenance practices like checking tire pressure or replacing worn-out shocks.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a government agency regulating the safety of truck drivers and car drivers. The FMCSA enforces hundreds of rules requiring trucks to stay in excellent operating condition so they can drive safely on roadways while providing for their driver's well-being as well.
The FMCSA is responsible for inspecting and maintaining records of each vehicle in a trucking business. The U.S. Department of Transportation created the agency with strict safety regulations that ensure drivers use best practices on the road to keep everyone safe.
Inadequate Truck Maintenance
There's an old adage that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" that certainly fits the trucking industry. But, unfortunately, truck accidents are often caused by inadequate maintenance.
The federal law (FMCSA Regulation §396.11) specifies that all truckers must maintain accurate inspection reports on their vehicles following the completion of each day's work and fill out required inspection reports.
The truck's service brakes, parking brake, and steering wheel are just some of the many pieces that must be maintained in proper working condition. The importance of this work cannot be understated as it is critical to fostering safe driving habits while out on the road.
If the windshield wipers are in disrepair, a truck driver could find themselves driving blind during inclement weather. Also, tires with low air pressure or improper inflation place the trucker and others at risk of being involved in an accident like jackknifing during bad weather conditions.
Here are some more ways that truck accidents happen:
- Failing to replace tires could cause the vehicle to lose control and swerve off course on a curve, leading to accidents from improper braking when slowing down for turns. It's also unsafe if the tires are misaligned from wear and tear over time, creating jerky steering while turning corners at high speeds.
- The brakes may need replacement due to age as well, making braking unpredictable during hazardous conditions. In these cases, the driver might think their foot is pressing hard enough to stop the truck when braking components must be replaced with new parts like pads, shoes, drums, etc.
The safety measures for drivers on trucks don't just extend to their lives. Commercial truck drivers should be mindful and conscious about how safe it is for others sharing the road!
The unfortunate reality is that many pieces of equipment in disrepair go unnoticed because truck drivers or companies fail to complete required inspection reports.
Holding Truck Drivers Accountable for Accidents During Poor Weather Conditions
Were you in a truck accident? Contact an experienced attorney today for help investigating whether these inspection records exist.
Poor record keeping is a violation of §396.11, which might be enough to confer liability on the company if they are found liable for your injuries from their driver's negligence.
Many drivers can now fight back when the trucking company or driver fails to maintain their equipment and causes accidents. Now that the federal government addresses this need for proper maintenance of trucks in the commercial trucking industry, car drivers can file lawsuits if a company has caused an accident due to poor upkeep.
You can't always prevent accidents, but did you know that if the trucking company failed to maintain its cargo and your injury is due to this negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation?
We have helped many people like yourself get back on their feet after suffering injuries in a car accident. Please speak with one of our lawyers today to learn more about what happened and how best to help.
How the Weather Affect Truck Drivers
A large commercial vehicle's sheer size and weight make it challenging for truck drivers to maneuver on narrow and busy roads.
Now, add in hazardous conditions, including rain, fog, or ice, and you've got a recipe for a poor weather accident. According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, 20% of all accidents are related to unsafe weather conditions, like wind, blown snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, and high winds that adversely affect visibility.
Bad weather can affect truckers in many ways:
- Slippery Roads: Rain makes the road slick creating hazardous conditions for commercial trucks. The slippery surfaces further increase the risk of truck accidents since maneuverability is hindered by the lack of friction on the roads. So, commercial truck drivers and truck owners must prevent a jackknifing or hydroplaning truck accident from happening during inclement weather.
- Poor Visibility: Truckers might not see the road clearly during torrential downpours and other hazardous weather conditions, resulting in an accident. That's why truckers should exercise extreme caution in ensuring they're not driving in low visibility conditions.
- Infrastructure Damage: Trees, lamp posts, or roadside infrastructure may be damaged due to poor weather and hazardous road conditions as obstructions in the roadway. The commercial truckers might not notice problems due to a lack of 100% visibility. As a result, the trucker might crash the heavy commercial motor vehicle into something.
- Lane Obstruction: Wind-blown debris and snow in bad weather can often obstruct lanes, making truck driving extremely challenging. The debris could lead to truck accidents since the wet road makes it difficult to stop the commercial truck on time.
While the weather might be a culprit in the accident, truck driver negligence is often the cause of severe crashes. If that's the case, you can hire an accident lawyer, and they'll help you determine the extent to which the driver was at fault.
Considering that, you can recover financial compensation for your damages caused by the truck driver or the trucking company.
Responsibilities of Truck Drivers During Bad Weather
Truck drivers have access to numerous apps that provide immediate weather forecasting, alerting the trucker while on and off the road. Therefore, if rain or snow is expected on a given day, the truckers have the following responsibilities:
Truckers must drive slowly in bad weather since sleet, rain, fog, snow, and other natural elements make them prone to truck accidents and adversely affect visibility. Driving at an appropriate speed helps reduce the risk of accidents and maintain traction.
But commercial trucks must travel from one location to another on tight schedules, leading the trucker to exceed the 25-mile per hour speed limit on interstates.
Bad weather trucking accident rates soar dramatically during hazardous conditions compared with other types of motor vehicle accidents.
Most states across the country require commercial drivers to take special safety courses that teach them how to handle different weather conditions while driving their vehicles.
A trucking company must ensure they're not hiring people who are not fit for driving in different kinds of weather, putting other drivers' lives at risk.
Truckers should check the weather forecast every morning before beginning their trip. They must keep an eye out for thunderstorms, fog, heavy rain, or snowstorms overnight.
If they see any weather that may cause problems during the travel time, they should try to postpone the journey until it is safe to drive again. If on the road, pullover when the hazardous condition becomes sufficiently dangerous to ensure truck safety.
However, if it's urgent to travel in the given circumstances, they must be sure to stop driving if the weather conditions are so bad there's no traction or visibility on the road.
When Is the Truck Driver Responsible?
A driver is responsible for a bad weather accident when they have done something contributing to the collision. For instance, their negligence or behavior might have set specific events that led to the road crash.
It's a driver's responsibility to take the weather conditions into account and determine if the road is safe enough for driving. They also have to ensure they're not cutting off other vehicles or traveling at a fast speed in bad weather or hazardous conditions.
Truckers can be held liable in bad weather accidents if they:
- Use worn wipers or do not use windshield wipers
- Use headlights improperly
- Are distracted while driving during bad weather
- Drive while being tired
- Do not follow traffic regulations and road signs
As a general rule, negligence can be proven by showing that the driver failed to act reasonably when improperly operating the vehicle, which led to an accident.
As a threshold requirement, the injured party must prove that the driver's negligence caused the accident. Since proving this can often be tricky, it's imperative to have a reliable attorney by your side who can help you through the case.
What Is the Most Common Reason for Being Involved in an Accident During Bad Weather?
Depending on the state and the type of weather prevalent in the region, specific reasons are more likely to cause a bad weather trucking accident.
Here are some common reasons:
Since commercial trucks are heavier on the top, they can tip over if the wind speed is too fast. Therefore, a fast wind speed can lead to toppling off of trucks if the drivers do not use extreme caution.
If the wind speed is too high, and the driver cannot reach a safe driving speed, they must pull off the road until conditions improve and no one's safety is at risk.
Heavy rain leads to the hydroplaning of commercial vehicles. Hydroplaning refers to the water displacement that occurs when an automobile drives through standing or running water.
Because of the reduced traction from this phenomenon, hydroplaning can lead to loss-of-control crashes and easily cause an otherwise safe driver to lose control of their vehicle.
Critical points for avoiding accidents like these include: staying away from bridges and overpasses during heavy storms, slowing down during rainstorms, and taking curves at lower speeds to reduce any loss of control.
Fog hinders visibility on the road, which is one of the primary reasons for a truck accident. If a truck driver cannot see very far ahead on the road, they are at risk of bumping into other vehicles on the roadway, leading to accidents.
More importantly, the stopping distance of commercial vehicles is much longer than for smaller cars and trucks. Therefore, without extreme caution, truckers could rear-end another driver on the road if visibility is low. Hence, drivers must use extreme caution when traveling during foggy or snowy conditions.
Leftover snow might also cause accidents if a driver is not paying attention and drives into or over it, further increasing winter driving dangers.
Therefore, drivers in states that experience heavy snowfall should be careful when driving through poor weather conditions and beware of snow frozen on the roads overnight.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against the Driver in a Bad Weather Truck Accident?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, "extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions exist."
Therefore, a tractor-trailer driver is fully responsible for ensuring they're operating safely during poor weather conditions.
However, when there's an accident caused due to poor weather or hazardous conditions, the blame can be shifted onto the weather. Therefore, you should hire an able attorney who can prove some negligence level of the truck driver or commercial trucking company that allows you to receive compensation.
Chicago's traffic is notorious, especially in hazardous weather. With cars driving through town, truckers with poor driving safety records share the road delivering goods around Chicagoland.
A heavily loaded commercial truck colliding with a passenger vehicle like yours causes all sorts of devastating consequences like traumatic brain injuries. Many serious injuries could lead to lifelong disabilities or cognitive impairment; quadriplegia and paraplegia; amputations of arms, legs, or fingers; brain trauma resulting in memory loss and coma.
How Much Are Poor Weather Conditions Truck Accidents Settlements Worth?
The settlement amount in trucking accident cases is dependent on several factors, such as:
- The percentage of fault on the driver if they failed to exercise extreme caution
- The severity of the injuries sustained by the plaintiff
- The plaintiff's total losses, such as economic and punitive damages
- Insurance coverage of the commercial motor vehicle driver (Varying levels of insurance coverage may apply for the parties involved in a truck accident, depending on if they are driver, carrier, or owner/vehicle. If there is no liability and no insurance coverage, then you might have to handle your case without any help from the insurer's lawyer.)
The unique circumstances of trucking accidents are different in every case. Therefore, financial recovery will be based on various contributing factors, including the severity of serious injuries, the extent of property damage, and fatalities.
So it would help if you talked to an attorney familiar with handling trucking accident settlements. In many cases, the trucking company will blame the weather entirely for an accident to evade responsibility.
As a result, you will get little to no compensation even if the trucker, inclement weather, snow, ice, sleet, fog, or the vehicle's poor maintenance were at fault.
Thus, you should hire an experienced attorney for the case. Remember to never talk to anyone else about what happened, not even another driver involved in the accident, without consulting with legal counsel first.
An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate your trucking accident case and provide advice about how best to proceed with your claim or lawsuit.
If it's required, your attorney will also recreate the accident's scene, conduct a thorough investigation, review commercial driving regulations, and interview eyewitnesses if any saw what happened.
Finally, they will help you recover lost wages, medical bills, vehicle damage, and any other compensations, depending on the case.
Asserting Negligence Against Commercial Trucking Companies for Failure To Maintain Vehicles
Do you know when the company truck was last inspected based on federal regulations? Negligence may have been a factor in an accident if there is no proof that safety inspections were performed on the vehicle within the last 12 months.
In addition, the truck might be in operation without necessary repairs, modifications, or other work on its engine, transmission, suspension system, and tires.
A personal injury can be enough to cripple a family financially. However, filing for compensation is not always easy, and it's often the case that trucking companies are well-prepared with legal representation when an accident occurs due to their negligence.
For example, if they fail in maintaining their fleet of commercial vehicles or safety standards overall, then you may have grounds for your claim against them.
It can be an arduous process to file a negligence claim against commercial trucking companies. Additionally, these truck companies are often prepared for litigation and have hired lawyers on staff who deal with claims like failing to maintain those vehicles.
It is vital that you hire an attorney with extensive knowledge of the FMCSA regulations and knows how to assert them in negligence claims. Hiring an attorney with this type of experience can have a significant bearing on your case, so it's essential not to take chances when choosing one for yourself or your loved ones.
Hiring a Truck Accident Attorney
You have rights! The Chicago truck accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are standing up for people as they fight to get justice and compensation in Illinois. We handle cases involving auto accidents, wrongful death lawsuits, and personal injury claims related to trucking accidents.
You can stand up for your legal rights today with help from truck accident lawyers. Call our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to schedule a free case evaluation and learn whether you may qualify for damages in the form of medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and lost wages.
Our truck accident attorneys have experience investigating unsafe trucks and the contributing factors that have led to their inadequate maintenance. In addition, we accept all injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on contingency fee agreements, meaning you pay no upfront fees until your legal matter is resolved.
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