The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has seen its share of trucking accidents. And recently, a historic 100+ vehicle collision occurred amid icy road conditions on I-35 in Fort Worth tragically caused large scale personal injury and a number of deaths. This incident raised questions for many regarding the liability of commercial trucking companies when weather conditions deteriorate.
If a trucking accident occurs, it becomes important to determine who may have been responsible for causing the collision. If a truck driver’s actions or inactions caused the accident to happen, the driver could be held liable for losses. And because drivers act on behalf of their employers, a driver’s trucking company could also be held responsible for compensating crash victims.
The Role of Weather
One common question victims have is: what happens if a truck accident is caused by bad weather? Snow and ice happen in Texas, and bad weather is certainly not anyone’s fault. So if the truck crash occurs due to a storm or poor road conditions, could the trucking company be held responsible?
In many cases, the answer to this question is yes. If a truck driver causes an accident during bad weather, the trucker and trucking company could still be made to pay victims damages, as long as the victims can prove the truck driver was negligent. An attorney can provide assistance in demonstrating negligence.
Although snow and ice can make roads more dangerous, these bad weather conditions are not always the ultimate cause of truck crashes that happen during the winter. Instead, it is sometimes the truck driver’s actions within the snow and ice that may cause the truck collision to occur.
State and Federal Regulations
The State of Texas and Federal Departments of Transportation have specific safety rules and regulations that govern the operation of commercial motor vehicles when hazardous conditions exist. These rules mandate that “Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet… adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.” Under the federal safety regulations, commercial vehicles traveling in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex might should have been aware of the hazardous conditions, which would have required truck drivers to reduce their speed or pull over and stop until the road conditions were safe.
In other words, a professional truck driver has a legal duty to adjust his or her driving skills to account for snowy and icy conditions. If a truck driver does not change the way he or she drives to ensure safety, he or she can be held liable for any crash that happens as a result. And if a commercial truck driver does not drive with a reasonable level of confidence and make safe choices when it comes to driving in a snow storm, he or she could be held responsible.
If a commercial truck driver continues driving when conditions are unsafe and fails to take reasonable precautions like slowing down on icy roads, a crash victim might be able to prove the trucker failed to live up to his or her duty to drive in a safe manner. An attorney may be able to provide assistance to victims of winter truck accidents by demonstrating how the crashes occurred determining whether the truck drivers took unsafe risks given the weather conditions during a given timeframe. If a victim can successfully prove a trucking company failed to meet its obligations under the law, the victim may be compensated for both economic and non-financial damages occurring as a direct result of the bad-weather trucking accident.