Anytime you are driving on the roads of the District of Columbia, the worst thing that can happen is getting into a collision with another vehicle. Any kind of traffic accident has the potential to be a serious one, and the odds of suffering a serious personal injury are significant.
However, those odds increase even more when the vehicle that collides with you is a truck. This is because both the height and the weight of a tractor trailer make any accident involving one of them far worse than it would have been, had it only involved another passenger vehicle.
While other passenger vehicles typically weigh around 3,000 pounds, even empty trucks weigh close to 30,000, while full tractor trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. To make matters worse, this extreme amount of weight hits your vehicle higher than if it had been a passenger vehicle in the collision, causing more damage and more serious injuries. This is why, in 97% of truck accidents involving one truck and one passenger vehicle and that resulted in a fatality, the person who died was in the passenger vehicle.
This makes avoiding a truck accident absolutely critical. However, there are some things that can cause a truck crash that is beyond your control. One of these potential contributing factors is an unsafe road condition, which can cause an accident when a truck driver tries to avoid it, or when they lose control after hitting it.
Truck Accidents Caused by Unsafe Road Conditions
An unsafe road condition can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Weather-related conditions like snow, ice, rain, fog, or even wind can all make it more difficult for truck drivers to stay in control of their vehicles. However, there are also other unsafe road conditions, as well, like potholes or poorly-designed turns.
Both of these travel problems are exacerbated by the size of a tractor trailer. Avoiding a massive pothole or staying in your lane during a strong wind shear are both difficult to do when you are driving a small sedan. When you are behind the wheel of a tractor trailer that weighs close to 80,000 pounds and has a center of gravity that is much higher than an average passenger vehicle, it is far more difficult.
In their massive study dealing with truck accidents, one of the contributing factors that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) paid attention to was unsafe road conditions. What they found was that, out of the 967 trucking accidents that they covered between 2001 and 2003, one out of every five of them involved an unsafe road condition of some sort, while another 14% of them involved a weather factor.
While this does not necessarily mean that one in three trucking accidents was caused by an unsafe road condition – the study found factors that contributed to the crash, and therefore did not necessarily cause it – the number of accidents that somehow involved an unsafe road condition is staggering.
One reason for this is how many different kinds of road conditions can be unsafe and how many different ways each one can cause a truck crash. One common example is a road hazard like a pothole or other bump in the road – a result of a poorly-maintained highway. Truckers who see this kind of hazard in front of them can either try avoiding it, risking a crash or can choose to drive over it, risking a crash, as well.
Who Is Responsible for Truck Accidents Caused by an Unsafe Road Condition?
Legally, a truck accident that was caused by an unsafe road condition raises an interesting question: Who should be liable for the damages? If you get hurt in a crash that was caused by slick roads from a heavy downpour of rain, it is not like you can get compensation from the rain clouds.
In many instances, the truck driver or his or her trucking company will be held liable for the accident because, typically, they are in the best position to take the extra precautions necessary to prevent a crash from happening. For example, if the crash was caused by a heavy rain storm, it is up to the driver to adjust their driving tactics for the new, more dangerous road conditions.
However, there are some unsafe road conditions where even the best and most careful truck driver would not have been able to prevent a crash. These frequently involve poorly-designed or maintained roads that become hazardous in certain conditions. In these situations, it might be the state or the local government who is legally responsible for the accident, because they were the ones responsible for the construction and maintenance of the roadway. Unfortunately, lawsuits against municipalities like local governments are often tricky because there are numerous procedural hurdles to overcome before you can get the compensation you need for your recovery: Hurdles that are in place to prevent too much government funding – which comes from taxpayers – from being won in personal injury lawsuits.
Washington, D.C. Truck Accident Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian
Because truck accidents are far more serious than a typical crash involving just passenger vehicles, getting compensation for your injuries is crucial. If you do not, you could be facing the possibility of paying for the staggering costs of your recovery and medical expenses out of your own pocket. Pursuing a personal injury case against the person or people who were ultimately responsible, on the other hand, can shift the cost of your recovery onto those who are at fault and should be paying.
This is why the lawyers at the law office of Gilman & Bedigian represent victims of trucking accidents in Washington, D.C. By serving as your legal representative both in and out of court, we can ensure that you get the compensation you need and deserve. Contact us online or call us at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation that will help you understand your legal rights and how you can go about enforcing them.