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truck accident in winter weather in Opelika, Alabama

Big Rig Accidents in Winter Weather in Alabama

Trucking is one of the dominant industries in Alabama. According to the Alabama Trucking Association, the trucking industry provides more than 105,000 jobs in the Yellowhammer State, accounting for approximately one out of every 15 workers. While this industry is vital to the state’s economy, Alabama is also ranked the fifth most treacherous state for truckers to driver through. Driving conditions are especially dangerous here in the winter time, when adverse weather presents several hazards that truckers frequently have to deal with.

The Dangers of Trucking Accidents in Winter Weather

When people think about states with hazardous winter driving conditions, Alabama does not usually come to mind. We certainly don’t have the types of major winter storms that hit the Northeast or Midwest, but we still get more than our share of dangerous weather during the winter months. Another factor is our location in relation to many of the major shipping cities and states. Truckers are typically allowed to be on the road for 11 hours during a 24-hour period, and they often come through Alabama while they are getting fatigued as they near the end of their route.

As truck drivers hit the Alabama roadways during the winter, they need to be aware of various types of adverse driving conditions. These include:

  • High Winds: Heavy winds are a common occurrence in Alabama. Windy conditions often accompany major storms that hit the Eastern part of the United States. Truck drivers often encounter strong crosswinds that may be powerful enough to blow even a large truck off the road, especially when traveling at high speeds.
  • Freezing Rain/Ice Storms: Freezing rain, sleet, and even snow are all typical conditions truckers in Alabama have to deal with during the winter months. Icy conditions are among the most challenging situations for truck drivers as it can be nearly impossible to control a big rig when it starts slipping on the road at high speeds. This can result in jackknifing and other types of accidents. When truckers encounter freezing rain, ice, and snow, it is best to pull in at a truck stop at the first opportunity and wait for conditions to improve.
  • Fog: Since Alabama is often at the southern end of a winter storm, it is not uncommon for two different weather patterns to converge as truckers make their way through the Yellowhammer State. This can result in heavy fog, making visibility difficult. When fog combines with freezing rain, ice, winds, and other hazardous conditions, the situation becomes even more dangerous. This, again, is the time when truckers should find a safe spot where they can wait out the storm.

Big Rig Accidents from Winter Weather in Alabama

Truck accidents can be among the deadliest incidents that occur on Alabama roadways. When an 80,000-pound commercial truck collides with another vehicle or object, the sheer force and impact of the collision can result in serious injuries and fatalities. And since other vehicles have less protection than big-rig trucks, occupants of those vehicles are far more likely to suffer severe and catastrophic injuries.

When individuals are injured in a truck accident that is caused by the negligence or reckless actions of another party, they may be entitled to compensation. These types of cases can be complicated, however, because there are several parties that could be responsible. These may include:

  • The Driver
  • The Owner of the Truck
  • The Trucking Company
  • The Cargo Loader
  • The Company Responsible for Truck Maintenance
  • The Vehicle or Vehicle Parts Manufacturer

A big rig accident case in Alabama is further complicated by the state’s “contributory negligence” legal doctrine. Under this doctrine, an injured party can be barred from recovering compensation if they are found to be even 1% at-fault for the accident. For this reason, it is important for those injured in a trucking accident to work with a skilled attorney who has in-depth experience with these types of cases.

Injured in a Truck Accident? Contact a Seasoned Alabama Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a big rig accident in Alabama, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating forcefully for your rights and interests. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have the experience, knowledge, resources, and commitment to provide the skilled and personalized representation you need and deserve.  

Fora free consultation with one of our experienced Alabama truck accident attorneys, call our office today at334-737-3718 or send us a message through our web contact form.

Theories on Causes of Truck Accidents - Alsobrook Jackson

Theories of Liability in Truck Accidents

Commercial trucks typically carry in excess of 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded and hauling cargo to their destination. This makes big rig accidents especially hazardous. When a large commercial vehicle collides with another vehicle or object, it can result in severe and catastrophic injuries. Occupants of passenger vehicles are far more likely to be killed in a trucking accident than occupants of the commercial truck.

Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that there were 2112 deaths in 2016 in two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck. 97% of those killed in these crashes were occupants of passenger vehicles. Thousands more passenger vehicle occupants suffered serious and debilitating injuries. These types of injuries can result in high medical bills, countless days missed from work, loss of earning capacity, and numerous other hardships.

Truck accidents can result in some of the most severe injuries, but they can also be very complex cases in which to pursue a liability claim. Trucking is a heavily regulated industry, and you need to be familiar with the countless government laws and regulations that may factor into this type of case. There are also several potential parties that may be responsible for the accident. Determining who is at-fault requires an extensive investigation and the ability to obtain facts and evidence from often unfriendly and uncooperative parties.

Theories of Liability in Trucking Accidents

When pursing a truck accident injury claim, your attorney will explore several legal avenues to determine the party or parties who are liable. Some potential theories of liability may include:

Driver Negligence

One of the most common legal theories in a trucking accident is negligence on the part of the driver. There are several ways a driver may be negligent. Examples may include speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving (e.g., texting while driving), disregarding traffic signals, and many others. A truck driver may also be liable because of a “per se” legal violation, such as driving while intoxicated, driving with an expired commercial driver’s license (CDL) or a violation of the federal hours of service guidelines.

Employer Liability

If a driver is acting within the scope of employment when the accident occurs, the trucking company that employs them can be held liable for the driver’s negligent actions. This theory is commonly referred to as “vicarious liability”. The driver’s employer may be also be held directly liable if they encouraged the driver to violate regulatory requirements. For example, trucking companies sometimes impose unrealistic deadlines on drivers, prompting them to stay on the road longer than they are allowed to.

Negligent Hiring, Entrustment, or Retention

A trucking company has a clear duty to investigate the experience and qualifications drivers that they hire. Therefore, a company may be held liable for an accident if they did not properly vet the driver before hiring them, did not provide adequate training for the driver to operate the vehicle safely, or learned after hiring the driver that they were not qualified to be on the road.

Lease Liability

A company that leases a vehicle to a driver as an “owner/operator” can still be held responsible for negligence caused by the driver that results in an accident. This may come into play if the truck continues to display the leasing company’s logo or placard even if the truck was not being driven on behalf of the leasing company. Your attorney will review copies of any lease agreement related to the vehicle to determine if lease liability exists.

Shipper Liability

Some truck accidents occur because of overloaded trucks or trucks that are unevenly loaded. This may cause the truck to roll over or turn over on its side when the driver encounters adverse conditions. A shipping company may be held liable for a trucking accident if the accident was the result of improperly loading the vehicle.

Negligent Truck Maintenance

Commercial trucks typically log thousands of miles over-the-road during in any given month. Federal regulations require that trucking companies properly inspect, maintain, and repair all vehicles that are under their possession and control. When an accident is the result of a mechanical failure, the company responsible for truck maintenance may be held liable.

Product Liability

Defective vehicle parts can play a part in causing a truck accident. Examples may include tire defects (e.g., tire blowouts or tread separation), faulty brake lines, defective steering systems, computer dashboard malfunctions, rear guard failures, and defective straps that cause the cargo to fall. In such cases, the product designer, manufacturer, or distributor may be held liable.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Truck Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a commercial vehicle it is important that you contact an experienced Alabama truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Many things can adversely impact your case and with every passing day preparation becomes even more challenging. Contact our office at (334) 737-3718 or through our website contact form.

commercial truck accidents

5 Common Injuries After a Truck Accident

Commercial trucking accidents are far more likely to result in death or serious injuries than accidents between two passenger vehicles. And according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), approximately three out of every four people killed in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. Those who survive these accidents often suffer catastrophic injuries that have a devastating impact on their lives. Many injury victims and their families face mounting medical bills, lost wages from time missed from work, rehabilitation costs, and the cost of ongoing medical care if the victim suffers from a debilitating condition.

There are several types of injuries that can occur after a truck accident, here are five of the most common:

Head and Brain Injuries

Trucking accidents often cause a jolt or blow to the head, which can result in a condition known as traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI is a unique injury because very often, it is not discovered until some time has passed after the accident, and it manifests itself differently in each individual.

More mild forms of TBI (commonly referred to as concussions) may result in temporary loss of consciousness or memory. Severe forms can last for months or years, resulting in a wide range of symptoms; such as dizziness, nausea and vomiting, extreme and lasting headaches, difficulty with concentration/focus, frequent agitation/irritation, fatigue, mood/behavioral changes, and many others.

Neck and Back Injuries

Because of the jarring force that affects occupants of passenger vehicles when they crash into a truck, neck and back injuries are common in truck accidents. Injuries can range in severity from minor aches and pains to debilitating conditions. Even relatively minor back and neck injuries can result in high medical costs and cause victims to miss work for an extended period of time.

Spinal Cord Injuries

The high impact of a crash with a truck also makes injuries to the spinal cord fairly commonplace after a trucking accident. Like traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries are not always detected right away, and often require a full medical exam that includes an MRI. Severe spinal cord injures can result in partial or full paralysis.

Burn Injuries

Burns are more common with truck accidents because of the size of the truck and the damage it can cause the other vehicle on impact. During a crash with a truck, there is a greater risk of rupturing the fuel tank and causing explosions and fires. Some burn injuries are minor and only penetrate the first layer of skin (epidermis). These are called first-degree burns. Second-degree burns penetrate the epidermis and the layer below (dermis). Third-degree burns are more severe, penetrating through both layers, charring skin, and often requiring multiple medical procedures and an extended recovery time.

Internal Injuries

Another injury that happens more because of the sheer force of the truck on the body of occupants of the other vehicle is an internal injury. Internal bleeding and damage to internal organs is not always known right away, again underscoring the need for those involved in a truck accident to seek immediate medical attention.

Determining Fault in Truck Accident Injury Cases

Trucking accident cases are typically far more complicated than standard auto accidents. Often, there are multiple parties that could be responsible, and it can be difficult to uncover the root cause of the incident. Some of the parties that could potentially be at-fault in a truck accident include the driver, trucking company, truck owner, transport company that loaded the truck, or the vehicle/vehicle part designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor. To get to the bottom of the case, it is important for the victim to work with a skilled professional who knows what to look for and has a successful track record representing other truck accident victims.

Contact a Seasoned Truck Accident Lawyer in Alabama

When someone is injured in an accident with a truck, it is often a life-altering event, and because of the complexities involved with these types of cases, strong legal representation is necessary in order to ensure you receive full compensation. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we have represented numerous truck accident victims in Alabama. We thoroughly understand federal trucking regulations and state laws, and we put our extensive experience to work to explore every potential legal avenue and aggressively pursue damages on behalf of each client we serve.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys, call our office today at 334-737-3718, or send us a secure and confidential message through our web contact form.