Tractor-Trailer Accidents Are More Frequent In Bad Weather
December 2022’s Winter Storm Elliott caused historic wind chills and untold numbers of road accidents in 36 of the 48 continental U.S. states, with areas from Boise to Fort Lauderdale being affected. The northern half of Florida was placed under a freeze warning by the National Weather Service, which led to slick roads and a corresponding rise in the number of accidents. Florida’s weather is normally warm enough where icy roads are not an issue, but this only makes driving in icy conditions more dangerous, particularly for tractor-trailer drivers who have to maintain control of such large vehicles.
Harder To Control In Bad Weather
According to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHA), icy roads cause an average of 190,000 crashes each year, with as many as 62,000 injuries as a result. Ice is generally more difficult to see on the road than snow, which means that it may suddenly be under one’s tires, leaving them little time to react appropriately if they are not driving defensively. Given that a tractor-trailer is generally 30 times heavier than the average vehicle when it is loaded, one can unfortunately imagine the potential harm an out-of-control tractor-trailer may cause.
In addition, the structure of a tractor-trailer can sometimes contribute to accidents and even more so in cold weather. The standard tractor-trailer consists of two parts, a cab and a trailer. In some types of accidents involving these big rigs, communication between the two parts of the truck can sever, leaving the trailer to fishtail across the highway. This is referred to as a jack-knife accident, and is more likely to occur in cold weather.
If you must drive on the highway in poor weather, it is crucial to understand the higher risks of accidents with ice on the roads. A driver can take their own precautions, as one might imagine, but it is important to always be observing other motorists on the road. In general, Florida law recognizes that each motorist owes a duty to exercise reasonable care while using the roads, intended to benefit other road users. If an accident happens, being able to show that your injuries were directly caused by the action (or inaction) of the other driver involved is the cornerstone of your case.
One thing to keep in mind is that even if you play a role in causing your own injuries, Florida law does not lock an injured plaintiff out of potential recovery. The state observes a doctrine called the comparative fault doctrine, which holds that a person who contributed to their own injuries can still recover damages minus their own percentage of fault. So, for example, if you are held to be 20 percent at fault, you may still potentially recover 80 percent of your damages.
Contact A Tampa Tractor-Trailer Attorney
While most of the time, Florida’s roads are free of ice and snow, it is imperative to understand how dangerous they become when winter weather sets in, particularly if a tractor-trailer is nearby. If you have been injured in this type of accident, a Tampa truck accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help you decide what to do next. Call our office today for a free consultation.