Road conditions are a persistent factor in truck accidents. While they can be less significant in southern states like Georgia than they are in states where it snows regularly, unsafe road conditions can still lead to accidents that end with innocent people getting severely hurt.
The truck accident lawyers at the Hadden Law Firm can help victims recover the financial compensation that they need to make a full recovery after a serious truck crash.
What are Unsafe Road Conditions?
Unsafe road conditions are driving situations that carry an increased risk of an accident because of the state of the road. Three of the most important types of unsafe road conditions are:
- Hazardous roads caused by bad weather,
- Poorly maintained roadways, and
- Poorly designed roadways.
According to a study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which looked at 967 truck accidents in 17 states in 2001, 2002, and 2003, the roadway was a factor in an estimated 20% of truck crashes. An additional 14% of truck accidents were at least partially caused by the weather.
Weather-Related Road Conditions
Precipitation – whether rain, snow, or ice – can make driving far less safe than it would have been if it were dry. While these increased risks come from reduced visibility and additional wind, they also come from how the roadway changes. Ice makes the road slippery, which can make it impossible to stop or turn if the driver hits an ice patch. With rain comes the risk of hydroplaning as well as an increased stopping distance.
When bad weather hits, though, it does not take responsibility away from truck drivers when they cause a crash. Commercial tractor-trailer drivers have a legal duty to drive safely for the circumstances in which they find themselves. If they fail to take safety precautions that are demanded by poor weather and the road conditions caused by that weather, they can be held accountable and liable for the accident that they cause.
That liability can also extend to the truck driver's employer, through the concept of employer liability.
Poor Maintenance Can Create Unsafe Road Conditions
Another way for roads to be unsafe is if they are poorly maintained. Potholes and cracks in the blacktop can make for treacherous driving. In some cases, they can make a driver lose control, veer into an adjacent lane or oncoming traffic, and cause a crash. In others, they can blow out a tire or even break an axle and create an accident.
When a truck accident is caused by an unsafe road condition that is the result of poor road maintenance, the responsible party is likely to be the state government or a local municipality. This complicates a lawsuit because there are lots of barriers in place to prevent taxpayer money from being used to compensate people who have been injured by the government's poor conduct.
Badly Designed Roads Can Create Unsafe Conditions
Finally, some roadways are dangerous and potentially unsafe because they were poorly designed. Bad designs can take lots of different forms, like:
- Sharp and sudden turns
- Blind corners
- Overly crowded roadways
- Lack of shoulders for emergency stopping
- Poor drainage systems
When these factors contribute to a truck accident, the responsible parties should be held accountable for their share in the crash.
In some cases, it was the federal, state, or local government that designed the roadway. Again, these cases can be difficult because there are obstacles that are meant to protect taxpayer money from being used to compensate victims of poor government conduct under the doctrine of sovereign immunity (also called governmental immunity).
In other cases, the roadway was designed by a contractor that failed to appreciate the dangers of their construction. Pursuing compensation from the company behind the road's design can be a huge part of a truck accident lawsuit that stems from a crash that happened because of unsafe road conditions.
Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers at the Hadden Law Firm
Unsafe road conditions are an under-appreciated factor in truck accidents throughout Georgia. In the aftermath of a serious crash, most of the attention can be thrown on the truck driver or their trucking company. However, when an unsafe road condition was caused by poor design or maintenance, other people and companies may be responsible as well.
The truck accident lawyers at the Hadden Law Firm know this and strive to hold those parties accountable and recover the compensation that the victims and their loved ones deserve. Contact them online to get started on your case and fight for the compensation you are entitled to receive.