Orange County’s weather patterns can shift dramatically throughout the year. Rain, dense fog, strong Santa Ana winds, and even a small amount of ice make driving dangerous — especially for truckers.
Have you been involved in an accident with a commercial truck during bad weather? Learn the effect of road conditions and weather on truck accident liability.
How Do Poor Weather Conditions Impact Trucks?
Commercial trucks are massive vehicles that require special skill and training to operate. When bad weather conditions are present, truck drivers must thoroughly understand the necessary changes to their driving habits to stay safe on the road.
All of the following conditions are present in Orange County throughout the year and can significantly impact a truck’s maneuverability:
- Heavy rain: Strong rains can reduce traction on the road and impact the truck driver’s ability to see other vehicles, increasing the risk of an accident.
- Strong winds: Heavy winds can cause tall trucks and trailers to sway and lose balance. They can also blow debris from truck beds into the roadway, cracking other drivers’ windshields and lowering visibility.
- Icy roads: California occasionally experiences small amounts of ice during the winter, and many resident drivers aren’t acclimated to driving in these conditions. Truck drivers may lose traction and have trouble stopping their heavy vehicles quickly, leading to collisions.
- Dense fog: Fog reduces a truck driver’s ability to see oncoming traffic. Dense fog, in particular, can impact a driver’s lateral visibility, increasing the risk of lane-changing accidents.
Who Is Liable in a Bad-weather Truck Accident?
Foul weather can impact any driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely. But when truck accidents occur in adverse weather, who is responsible?
Liability depends on the accident circumstances, but remember that California is a fault state. This means someone is always to blame for an accident — a truck driver can’t place the blame on the weather conditions and remove their liability. The effect of road conditions and weather on truck accident liability is minimal.
California is also a pure comparative negligence state. The insurance company can assign partial fault to all parties involved in an accident. These parties may include the following:
Even when adverse weather conditions impact a truck driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely, the driver is responsible for preventing accidents. Operating a truck in hazardous conditions is a form of negligence.
The truck driver may be liable for the accident if they:
- Continued to drive in adverse conditions when there was a safe place to pull over
- Neglected to adjust their driving habits to account for bad weather
- Disobeyed their company’s safety rules for driving in bad weather
- Broke traffic laws, causing the accident
Often, the company overseeing the truck driver is at least partially responsible for accidents involving the driver. The company may be partially liable if it:
- Forced the driver to continue working in adverse weather conditions
- Failed to train the driver to safely maneuver in wet, icy, or windy conditions
- Neglected to maintain the vehicle, causing it to malfunction in poor weather
The truck parts manufacturer could also be partially liable if the accident involved faulty or malfunctioning parts. For example, trucks should have adequate safety measures to adjust to wet roadways and remain stable in high winds. If these measures do not perform to the proper standards, the manufacturers may be liable for releasing faulty products.
The other drivers involved in the truck accident may share liability with any of the above parties. For example, perhaps the truck merged into a passenger vehicle because of foggy weather and because the passenger vehicle did not have its headlights on. Or maybe a truck pulled out in front of a passenger vehicle, leading to a collision, but the passenger vehicle was also speeding at the time of the accident.
The insurance company will examine the accident from all angles to determine liability. If the insurer assigns you partial blame for the accident, and you believe the truck driver or company was fully responsible, your truck accident attorney can help you gather evidence to support your case.
Safely Navigating Around Trucks in Adverse Weather
While you can’t always predict a truck driver’s behavior, especially in dangerous weather conditions, you can take measures to improve safety around these massive vehicles. Review the following tips for safely maneuvering around trucks in poor weather:
- Always use your headlights in the rain. It’s the law in California.
- Stay out of a truck’s blind spots as much as possible. Blind spots on commercial trucks are under the left and right side mirrors, 20 feet in front of and 30 feet behind the truck.
- Leave extra space between your vehicle and a commercial truck in wet or icy road conditions to allow ample time to brake.
What To Do After a Truck Accident in Bad Weather
If a truck strikes your vehicle in bad weather conditions, assess the damage and move your vehicle to safety if possible. Call the police and wait for help to arrive — don’t exit your vehicle during inclement weather unless it is safe to do so.
Before leaving the accident scene, gather the truck driver’s contact information, company name, and insurance information. Reach out to the relevant insurance companies within a few days of the accident to file a claim.
Truck companies sometimes try to settle accident claims under the table, but accepting a settlement offer could reduce your payout. Working with a qualified truck accident attorney can help you determine the value of your claim and seek adequate compensation to cover your property damage and injuries.
Call an Experienced Orange County Truck Accident Lawyer
The effect of road conditions and weather on truck accident liability is minor. A truck driver may still be liable even if the poor weather impacts their driving abilities.
Are you a truck accident victim in Orange County? Call Khalil Law Group today at 714-617-7870 for professional legal assistance.