Truck Accidents in Hazardous Conditions

images.jpgWith the tornadoes and rain we’ve had in the area lately, what is the impact on a Texas trucking collision if hazardous conditions are involved?

Hazardous driving conditions can be caused by many factors including
• Weather conditions causing slippery roads, flooding, or fallen rocks;
• Poor visibility due to sun glare, rain, snow, fog or improper lighting • Road design or maintenance issues, including blocked signs, insufficient signage, potholes, drop-offs, bumps, narrow roads and shoulders, insufficient merge zones, and construction related hazards; and • Miscellaneous hazards such as debris or obstacles in the road or prior accidents
Under the governing Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Section 392.14 states that when a truck driver is driving in hazardous conditions, “extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction.” Further the FMCSR require a truck driver to reduce his speed when hazardous conditions exist. And if the conditions are dangerous, he must stop driving the tractor trailer until the conditions improve.

So a truck driver can’t just say he hit a patch of ice and the wreck isn’t his fault. I’m working on a case like that now and have defeated the insurance company’s argument that it wasn’t their insured driver’s fault when he spun and hit my client (also driving an 18 wheeler) in a wreck this January.

When the conditions require a truck driver to stop driving, the truck driver must find a place to pull over safely. If compliance with the rule would increase a hazard to passengers, the truck can be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of the passengers can be assured.

Many truck-tractor collisions could have been prevented simply by a truck driver reducing their speed or pulling off the roadway until the rain, fog or other visibility impairment improved.

Texas leads the list in collisions involving tractor-trailers. In 2011 the Texas Department of Transportation reports that there were 3015 deaths and 79,573 serious injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents in Texas. 299 of those deaths, and 2,308 of those serious injuries involved a truck-tractor/semi-trailer.

Because a fully loaded commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, compared to a 3,000 pound passenger vehicle, big rigs often cause tremendous destruction in the event of a Texas truck accident.

We have been successful at helping our clients receive compensation for damages to reimburse them for their medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering and property damage. For fatalities from truck collisions the driver’s parents, children, and spouse can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

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