When compared to a car accident, truck accidents are far more serious. This is in large part because of the sheer size of a tractor trailer. While cars typically weigh about 3,000 pounds, tractor trailers regularly weigh more than 30,000, even when they are empty. When they have a full trailer of cargo, trucks can weigh closer to 80,000 pounds. When something this large gets involved in a collision, the other vehicles in the wreck suffer far more damage than they otherwise would have, and their occupants can get severely injured.
While many truck drivers take this responsibility to drive safely very seriously, others do not. Even those that do, though, might fail to realize when there are unsafe driving conditions that require an extra level of care while they are behind the wheel. These unsafe road conditions can cause a serious truck accident that leaves you with severe or even fatal personal injuries that can change your life and the lives of those that you care about.
Unsafe Road Conditions Can Cause Truck Accidents
Whenever there is a road condition that makes driving more difficult, you can count on the number of accidents increasing. Snow, ice, fog, or even very strong winds can all make driving tricky. Unfortunately, the larger the vehicle you are driving, the more difficult it can be to keep it under control under these adverse conditions. The extra size and weight of a tractor-trailer make difficult driving conditions far more dangerous, while the added height raises the truck's center of gravity, making it easier to roll over in bad weather or after even the slightest driving mistake.
In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) did a massive study of trucking accidents between 2001 and 2003. The study focused on no fewer than 967 injury-causing crashes in 17 states, involving more than 2,000 vehicles.
The findings of the FMCSA's study reveal the dangers of unsafe road conditions for truck accidents. According to the study, one out of every five truck accidents involved roadway related factors, while another 14% of truck accidents involved factors related to the weather. Together, this accounted for 34% of the accidents in the study or more than one out of every three trucking accidents. While this did not necessarily mean that a third of truck accidents were caused by factors related to conditions with the road or the weather – the study allowed crashes to have numerous factors involved in each – the number of times that the weather or the road had a part to play in a truck accident was shockingly high.
The ways that unsafe road conditions can contribute to a trucking accident are numerous. One common example is a deep pothole in a poorly-maintained highway. Truckers who notice such a road hazard might take evasive maneuvers to avoid it. Unfortunately, this could put others at risk if they are in adjacent lanes and the truck swerves to miss the pothole. Additionally, evasive maneuvers can result in the trucker losing control of their vehicle, which could result in a jackknife or a rollover accident. Things could be even worse, though, if the trucker does not notice the dangerous road condition. The impact can result in a cargo shift in the bed of the trailer, which could throw the truck out of control on the road. It can also cause a blown tire or another type of equipment failure, which can make it impossible to keep the truck moving safely. Either way, the resulting truck accident will have been caused by a road condition that could have been avoided.
Finally, some roads in the United States might be perfectly maintained, but still be dangerous because they are designed poorly. Hills that are too steep for trucks or turns that are too tight can lead to unsafe road conditions that cause truck accidents that end up hurting innocent drivers.
Who Is Responsible for Truck Accidents Caused by Road Conditions?
A truck accident caused by an unsafe road condition raises an interesting legal question: Who should be held legally responsible?
In a typical trucking accident, the truck driver or his or her trucking company will be held liable because they were being negligent when they caused the crash. However, when even the best truck driver could not have prevented the crash because of an unsafe road condition, liability for the accident could fall on whoever was in charge of designing or maintaining the road.
This often means that it is the state or local government who is liable for the accident, or the federal government if the crash happened on an interstate highway. Unfortunately, this means that there will be procedural hurdles to overcome because it is far more difficult to successfully sue the government for a personal injury claim than it is to sue an individual person or a corporation. However, just because it is more difficult to sue the government does not mean that it is impossible. While the government has immunity to most lawsuits, they waive that immunity in certain situations, allowing you to recover compensation for your losses.
Maryland Truck Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Truck accidents are notoriously serious. The additional force that trucks bring into a collision is often enough to turn a minor accident into a major one, and a severe crash into a fatal one. When they were caused by something as avoidable as an unsafe road condition, though, it can be especially unfair to have to deal with the injuries that you suffered in the crash.
This is why the personal injury attorneys at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian represent victims of serious trucking accidents. By fighting for your legal rights and interests both in and out of court, we can ensure that you get the compensation you need in order to make a full recovery after the crash. Contact us online or call our law office at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.