Trucking accidents are not uncommon. Truck drivers handle heavy vehicles that are harder to maneuver and take longer to stop. And when you add snow, ice, fog, or rain to the mix, accidents are even more likely to occur.
More than 20 percent of all vehicle accidents are weather related, according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. Rain and slick roads are responsible for most weather-related accidents, but they also often happen in wintry conditions like snow, sleet, and ice.
Whether the accident is caused by an inattentive driver or inclement weather, damages are likely to be substantial. The first step after a trucking accident that occurred in bad weather is to determine who was responsible and how much the road conditions contributed to the accident.
A semi-truck accident lawyer can help determine how much bad weather played a part in your trucking accident and the amount of damages you may be able to recover from the other driver. Depending on the circumstances, you may even be able to hold the trucking company itself responsible, allowing you to recover more in damages.
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Responsibilities of Truck Drivers in Bad Weather
Bad weather can impact any driver, but truck drivers must take extra caution given their vehicles’ size and how much time they need to maneuver. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) even mandates that commercial vehicle drivers use extreme caution when driving in hazardous weather conditions that affect their visibility or traction. According to the FMCSA, truck drivers must:
- Drive slower in hazardous weather such as snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke. A truck driving in good road conditions at regular speeds may need about two football fields to stop, and that distance only increases in hazardous weather. Driving slower gives truck drivers more time to stop in poor driving conditions to help prevent an accident.
- Stop driving if the weather conditions become too dangerous, and wait to resume until the roads are safe. If stopping would increase danger to the driver, passengers, or other vehicles on the road, the truck driver can keep driving until they are safely out of danger.
Commercial vehicle drivers, like all drivers, have a duty to be safe on the road and to take precautions as needed. If a truck driver keeps going the speed limit (or faster) or doesn’t pull off the road in dangerous conditions and it leads to an accident, that driver may be liable for any injuries. However, it may take the help of a tractor trailer accident lawyer to determine if weather played a part in an accident caused by the driver’s negligence.
How Can Bad Weather Contribute to a Trucking Accident?
Bad weather conditions do more than just limit visibility and reduce traction on the road. There are many ways that inclement weather can impact a truck driver’s ability to control or maneuver their vehicle, including:
- Lane obstruction due to things like wind-blown snow or debris
- Altered driver capabilities and behavior
- Traffic signal timing
- Infrastructure damage
- Lane submersion in a flood
Truck drivers may decide to increase their speed to get to their destination before predicted adverse weather strikes, raising their risk of a collision. If they’ve been delayed by bad weather, they may rush to get where they need to go once the weather clears, or skip out on needed sleep and drive while fatigued. These are all things a Texas truck accident lawyer takes into account when determining who is responsible for an accident caused by bad weather.
Determining Who Is Responsible
Bad weather is rarely the cause of an accident, but it may be one reason that the crash occurred. When a trucking accident happens during inclement weather, all of the circumstances — including the behavior of both drivers, the weather, and the road conditions — must be considered.
Drivers must take into account the weather, road conditions, their personal state, and the safety of their vehicle any time they drive through hazardous conditions. Failing to go a slower speed in rain or cutting off other vehicles on an icy road, for example, may be factors that contribute to an accident in bad weather for which the driver is liable.
Drivers may be liable for an accident that occurs in bad weather for any of the following reasons:
- Failing to use windshield wipers or using worn wipers
- Improperly using headlights
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving while distracted or impaired
- Not obeying traffic signals or road signs
When a driver fails to act with a reasonable level of care while on the road — including getting off the road when conditions are hazardous — and an accident occurs, the driver may be held liable for any damages and injuries caused.
Truck accidents can happen in bad weather because of the pressure drivers are often under from their employers to get to their destinations. This can cause them to speed or ignore bad weather to get the job done. If the accident occurs while the driver is on the job, the trucking company may be liable for their driver’s negligent actions.
Why Work with a Texas Truck Accident Lawyer?
When you’ve been in a trucking accident, it helps to work with an experienced tractor trailer accident lawyer who can help determine why the driver was on the road when the conditions were hazardous. Determining who was at fault when bad weather was involved can be complicated, and working with an attorney who is familiar with commercial driving regulations, as well as federal and state rules for commercial vehicles, can make a difference in your case.
Trucking companies and their drivers may try to blame the accident on bad weather to avoid having to pay damages. A big truck accident lawyer knows what tactics trucking companies commonly use to try to evade responsibility and will make sure that a company is held liable for the actions of its employees so that you can get the recovery you deserve. That may mean showing that the trucking company had poor training practices or put pressure on drivers to get deliveries made, contributing to the actions of the driver that led to the accident.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can gather evidence to prove that while bad weather may have contributed to the accident, the negligence of the driver was ultimately to blame. If needed, your attorney will conduct an independent investigation, interview witnesses, and recreate the scene of the accident. Depending on the details of your case, you may be able to recover medical bills, lost wages, lost future earnings, property damage, and pain and suffering.
How FVF Can Help
It can be hard to prove negligence when bad weather is a factor. At FVF, our Austin truck accident lawyers have experience in cases like these and will use our expertise to get you the best recovery possible. We’ll conduct a thorough investigation and get all the evidence needed to show that the other driver’s negligence was to blame. To schedule your free, remote consultation, contact us today.