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How do road conditions impact a truck accident case?

Trucking companies often like to downplay their liability by trying to blame the accident on road conditions rather than their driver’s negligence. What do we mean when we say that trucking companies will try to blame road conditions? Well, put simply, they don’t want to compensate you for your injuries that their driver caused.

There are a number of defenses that trucking companies use to try and avoid liability. However, blaming a driver’s misconduct on road conditions is one of the more offensive tactics used by trucking companies, but it is also one of the more common. In this article we’ll discuss this defense concept and how we can work to defeat it.

Questions Answered in This Article

  • How do road conditions impact a truck accident case?
  • If roads are icy or covered in rain, will that hurt my case?
  • How do you verify road conditions in a truck accident case?

So, what are “road conditions?”

Put simply, this is the status of the road you’re driving on. You know how when there’s a snow and ice storm, the meteorologist says that road conditions are icy and should be avoided until melted? That’s what that means. It’s the way the roads are when you’re travelling them. So, you could see how a truck could have an accident, if the particular road they’re driving on has bad conditions? Well, that’s what the defense attorneys will play off of. They’ll state that bad road conditions were the cause of the accident and not actually the negligence of the truck driver himself.

Why do Trucking Companies Make This Argument?

To put it plainly, trucking companies are trying to pay the least amount possible for a given accident. so if they can attribute any percentage of blame on another circumstance, like road conditions, that saves them money on the back end.

Placing Blame on Road Conditions

There are several ways that the defendants will attempt to skirt liability, placing the blame on someone or something else. In regards to road conditions that they’ll cite, these are some of the common ones we here:

  1. Construction Zones: These areas can honestly be a driver’s worst nightmare, regardless of what vehicle their in. The lanes are changing at various times and only temporarily, so you could be driving a road at the end of the day that will act completely different from the beginning of the day. Plus, this means there are crews on the road, there are road cones and signs, there are speed fluctuations, and even some areas that are off-limits (leading traffic to shift in dangerous ways). Trucking company attorneys will use these crews and their equipment as scapegoats for responsibility.
  2. Bad Weather: There’s no denying that bad weather causes accidents. However, a light misting rain is not something that a defense attorney should be blaming your trucking accident on. There’s regular weather (as well all know: rain, cloudiness, etc.) and then there’s bad weather (thunderstorms, hail, ice and snow). We all know the difference, and yet some defendants will attempt to use this excuse, even when the weather is mild.
  3. Debris: We’ve all been behind that one vehicle that has furniture or ladders stacked up high in their trunk or tailgate, and it is not tied down at all. We get nervous, keep our distance, and hope something doesn’t fall out. Well, we also all know that sometimes it does. Therefore, debris in the road is a common occurrence. We tend to swerve around it, safely passing by, but that doesn’t mean all other drivers do that too. A truck driver may be distracted, and instead of swerving, hits the debris which ends up sending him crashing into you. If your case is anything like all the other trucking accident cases we’ve handled, the insurance company and their legal team will attempt to use debris as their ultimate excuse.

In short, there are plenty of excuses that a trucking company might try to argue in an accident case. They’ll argue any of the road conditions that we mentioned above, but they’ll often blow it way out of proportion. They’ll say the construction crew was to blame for misplacing signage, but really, their driver had a responsibility to keep their eyes open for the signs. They’ll state that it was raining heavily, but weather reports from that day only mention a little rain. They’ll say that there was debris in the road, when it may have just been a drive thru soda cup. We know this sounds exaggerated, but really, it’s what they’ll do. They want to lessen the payout they owe to you, any way that they can.

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Example of This Argument in Action

We had a case in Arkansas where an 18-wheeler crashed into several cars that had slowed for traffic. Even though it came out that the truck driver was on drugs, speeding, and made no attempt to brake before impact, the trucking company still tried to argue that the surface of the roadway was not conducive to braking. It’s all an attempt to lessen the percentage they will pay out at the end of the case.

Variations on This Argument

How are trucking companies legally allowed to make this defense? Everyone is provided the opportunity to defend themselves. Though lying is not permitted, they can suggest alternative explanations for how the accident occurred.

There are two specific legal defenses that are permitted:

  1. Sudden emergency defense – One can argue that the negligence was simply an improper reaction to an emergency. Let’s say a vehicle is driving along the roadway and a tornado drops from the sky. That’s a legitimate emergency. And if a car swerves into another lanes striking another vehicle, it would be argued that this was simply in improper reaction in response to the emergency.
  2. 3rd party defense – If there was a situation like another vehicle spilling sand onto the roadway, loose gravel on the roadway, etc., These are possible 3rd party issues. But this is often a defense that is exploited in an attempt to lessen the percentage teh trucking company will owe to the plaintiff.

Give Grossman Law Offices a Call

We have seen, time and time again, these defenses being used. We’ve seen insurance companies flat out deny compensation when the road condition they cite was not actually a real problem. In our 25 years of practicing law, we know what they’ll argue, and we know what to offer as a rebuttal. We seek out evidence (stop-light cameras, as an example) that will show there were no bad weather conditions. We hire accident reconstructionists to go to the scene, determining if there really was construction zone hazards or roadside debris. We know how to combat this defense. Call us now, at (855) 326-0000, to help you in your case. The call is free, so don’t wait.

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