The jury in Dallas County determined the trucking company was 90 percent liable for the family’s damages, while the truck driver was 10 percent responsible. The head-on collision happened in February 2015. The 42-year-old registered nurse was on her way to visit a hospice patient when an 18-wheeler traveling the opposite directions slid across the highway and slammed into her vehicle. She died instantly.
It was later revealed that the large truck had no snow chains on it tires. Now, those of us here in Miami might not be familiar with snow chains, but long-distance truckers who travel cross-country should have a good idea. These devices are chains that can be affixed to one’s tires in order to improve traction and control in icy, snowy road conditions. Testimony and evidence presented at trial showed the company did have snow chains at the terminal, but the truck driver did not seek them out or use them the morning of the accident.
According to The News Journal, the crash occurred around 9:30 a.m. one February morning in 2015.The truck driver was assigned to pick up office supplies from a terminal in Dallas and drive them to a suburb about an hour or so away. He knew the conditions of the road were bad that morning because he had driven himself to the terminal. It’s not clear whether he knew there were snow chains available or whether he’d been trained to use them.
Truck drivers need to know that in inclement weather – snow, ice, fog, rain or high winds – these are scenarios for which they must be prepared. That means their vehicles have to be properly loaded and have the right equipment. Drivers need to be adequately trained and not pushed to operate the vehicle in unsafe conditions or at unsafe speeds. It’s not lost on our Miami truck accident lawyers that snow chains on tires reduce the maximum speed a vehicle can go, which most likely has something to do with why drivers weren’t encouraged to use them. The faster each haul can be delivered the more deliveries can be made and the more money these trucking companies can make.
The fact is, bad weather is simply not an excuse for a tractor-trailer accident. That’s because section 392.14 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) clearly states that, “extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions exist.” The rule makes it very clear that weather it’s foggy, misty, rainy, dusty, smokey, snowy, icy or otherwise slippery, commercial drivers “shall use” extreme caution. That means either significantly reducing the speed of the rig or even stopping if necessary. It also means taking appropriate precautions to ensure the rig is in good shape before even heading out into bad weather. In some cases, it could even mean not driving at all until the storm/ poor conditions pass. In fact, the FMCSR specifically states that if the conditions become sufficiently dangerous while the trucker is driving, the operation of the truck “shall be discontinued” and shouldn’t resume until safe operation is possible.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Jury awards $35M to family of hospice nurse killed in icy crash with 18-wheeler, Sept. 7, 2016, By Caleb Downs, The Dallas Morning News
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No Child Injuries in Miami School Bus, Man Hospitalized, Sept. 29, 2016, Miami Truck Accident Lawyer Blog