Anyone who has driven in winter weather knows that traffic accidents can very easily occur during snowstorms or black-ice conditions created by freezing rain. Though most observers may be inclined to blame these crashes on nothing more than weather, driver negligence quite often contributes to collisions and resultant injuries and deaths that might have been avoided through safer driving in poor weather situations. Commercial truck drivers, in particular, who generally have financial incentives to cover great distances in short periods of time, frequently cause serious vehicle accidents through negligent bad-weather driving.

trucking in bad conditionsLawyers experienced with large trucking-accident cases understand the unique challenges of determining the contribution of driver negligence to multiple-vehicle truck accidents that have occurred during snowstorms or invisible-ice conditions. On Wednesday afternoon, January 7, 2015, for instance, two persons were killed in Clarion Township, Pennsylvania, in an 18-vehicle crash (involving 9 cars and 9 trucks, several of which were tractor-trailers and at least one of which was carrying hazardous material) that occurred during a snow squall that was said to create white-out conditions that reduced driver visibility. The National Weather Service is reported to have issued warnings about lake-effect snow squalls in the area for that same afternoon.

Two days later, on January 9, 2015, a massive and fatal 170-vehicle crash took place in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, during another lake-effect snowstorm. A semi-trailer hauling 40,000 pounds of fireworks—and another carrying hazardous materials that caught fire in the crash—were among the many large trucks involved, resulting in an explosion of a sizeable percentage of the fireworks and an evacuation of a three-mile area due to the burning hazardous materials. Hours later, a second fatal accident involving approximately 30 cars and trucks occurred in another part of Michigan.

Can the driver of a truck or other vehicle be found liable for injuries or deaths that occur in such winter-weather accidents? Drivers who are found to have driven negligently for current weather conditions are frequently found liable for accidents and resultant injuries and deaths determined to have been caused by such negligence. The seasoned and highly skilled truck-accident attorneys of The Trucking Injury Firm have extensive experience with large trucking-accident cases and have worked with the best of experts to determine truck-driver liability for injuries and deaths sustained in complex and massive crashes. If you have been injured or one of your family members has been killed in a truck accident involving two vehicles or two-hundred, The Trucking Injury Firm can help you obtain the compensation you deserve from the responsible parties.

Legal Liability for Trucking-accident Injuries and Deaths

Drivers of semi-trailers, tractor-trailers, and other large commercial motor vehicles (CMV) are considered common carriers, and, as such, have an even higher duty of care for the safety of vehicle occupants and pedestrians than do drivers of other motor vehicles. A truck driver can be found to have negligently caused a truck accident in a variety of ways, including driving in a manner that is unsafe for current weather conditions. Thus, even when black ice, sudden snow squalls, or other slippery-road or poor-visibility conditions contribute to accidents, drivers whose negligence is also found to have contributed to these accidents may be found liable for resulting damages if the accidents could have been avoided through the drivers’ exercise of reasonable care.

The 18-vehicle Clarion Township, Pennsylvania, crash, for instance, was reported to have occurred during a snow squall (a whiteout caused by h2 wind gusts and blowing snow) after warnings of snow squalls for that area and time of day had been issued by the National Weather Service. A truck driver’s decision to drive in the area during the time such warnings were in effect could, in itself, be argued to constitute negligence on the part of the driver, as truck drivers are and should be aware of the dangers to others inherent in driving vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more through such hazardous conditions.

Other instances of truck-driver negligence during poor weather may also lead to truck drivers’ liability for accidents and resultant injuries and deaths. A trucker who was driving too close to the vehicle immediately ahead, for example, may be found to have negligently caused a collision on an icy or otherwise slippery road if the collision could have been avoided by a greater following distance. Truckers who are compensated by the mile rather than the hour are also frequently found to violate speed limits and to drive too fast for road or weather conditions in an attempt to maximize their income. A driver who is found to have been driving too fast for snow or ice conditions and to have been unable to stop or slow down quickly enough to avoid colliding with another vehicle may be found liable for injuries or deaths determined to have resulted from the negligently caused collision, despite black-ice, snow, or other slippery-surface or reduced-visibility conditions. Such drivers may also be found liable for injuries caused by hazardous substances being transported by drivers when accidents occur, as such drivers’ duty of care includes the duty to take precautions to protect others from injury from transported hazardous substances.

Trucking companies that employ or dispatch truckers may also be found liable, under certain circumstances, for truck-accident injuries and deaths determined to have been caused by truckers’ negligence. The employer of a trucker whose negligence is found to have caused a fatal or injury-causing accident may be found vicariously, or indirectly, liable for the injuries or deaths caused by the employer’s negligent employee. A trucking company may also be held directly liable for such injuries and deaths if the company is found to have been negligent in screening, hiring, dispatching, training, or retaining an incompetent or otherwise unqualified driver. In such cases, trucking companies may be found liable, under the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 308, for negligently entrusting such drivers with trucks or with the activity of commercial trucking.

Obtain Legal Representation from The Trucking Injury Firm

The Trucking Injury Firm has helped individuals and families across the United States achieve justice from those who have caused truck-accident victims’ preventable injuries and deaths. If you have been injured or one of your family members has died in a truck accident anywhere in the country, The Trucking Injury Firm’s esteemed trucking-accident lawyers are ready to fight for you.