Oct 30 2009

Bad Weather & Truck Accidents

There are many things that truck drivers can do to avoid collisions. They can ensure that their truck is in good working condition, including their braking system. Drivers can check their tires before a trip and throughout to make sure they are properly inflated and the tires are not worn. They can practice defensive driving and safe techniques out on the road, and they can make sure they have the proper amount of sleep. But drivers have no control over bad weather.

Truck drivers often drive hundreds of miles each day and in that time can see a wide variety of weather conditions. Usually they can handle most conditions and it is important that all truck drivers are taught safe techniques for driving in bad weather.

Truck drivers should study their daily routes and check weather reports before heading out. They should have some idea of the weather conditions they may be driving into. There are several weather situations that are particularly serious and can lead to a greater number of accidents. These are times that truck drivers may want to get off the road.

Poor Visibility

One of the most important factors for any driver is to be able to see the road and the other vehicles on it. There are many different weather conditions that hamper visibility. These include heavy rain or sleet, snow blizzards, and thick fog. In these conditions vehicles often become “invisible”. Even with lights and reflectors trucks and cars may not be able to see one another. It is important to drive slowly, with extreme caution, and consider getting off the road if possible.

Unsafe Road Surfaces

Precipitation can often be a challenge. Rain and snow can make road surfaces slick and slippery. It is often hard for vehicles to get proper traction. In some colder climates, black ice forms on road surface. It gets its name from the fact that it is practically invisible, so drivers do not realize they are driving on ice until they begin to slip. These road conditions can be extremely dangerous and truck drivers need to determine if they can continue safely or if they should pull off.

High Winds

Excessive winds can be very dangerous. Car drivers may have trouble maintaining control of their vehicles, and may be blown in from of other traffic. Because they have a different center of gravity, it may be even more difficult for truck drivers to control their rigs. Extreme winds can also shift loads which can lead to rollovers. Many states will ban trucks and other large vehicle, such as buses or RVs, from traveling if they feel the winds are too severe.

While many truck drivers do not want to stop and get behind schedule, there are going to be times that the weather is too severe to continue. The trucking industry and trucking companies should support the drivers by recognizing that sometimes the safest technique to do is to get the truck off the road. Practicing good judgment may keep both the driver and the company from being held liable in the event of a severe weather truck accident.

This article is not intended for legal advice.

Continued Legal Sources: TruckAccidentLaw.org. Serving clients in North Florida and nationwide.


Oct 28 2009

Premises Liability and Types of Visitors

Premises liability refers to holding the owner responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on their premises. Some states focus on the type of visitor-owner relationship for determining owner responsibility for injuries that occur on their property.

Invitee

An invitee is someone who was invited onto the property for the commercial benefit of the premises owner; for example, a customer in a store. In this case the property owner has a duty to protect invitees from harm and to warn of any potentially dangerous situations on their premises.

The property owner is responsible when:

  • The risk to invitees is unreasonable
  • The owner knows, or reasonably should have known, about the condition

A property owner may be required to inspect the premises regularly to ensure that a dangerous situation hasn’t been created, such as when something has been spilled on the floor that creates the danger of a slip and fall.

Social Guests or Licensees

A licensee is a person invited onto the premises for a reason that is not commercial. The property owner in this case is responsible for any injuries on their property when:

  • The owner knows, or reasonably should have known, about the condition
  • The owner did not try to make the condition safe
  • The owner did not warn the licensee of the risk created by the condition
  • The licensee did not know, or have reason to know, the condition existed

Trespasser

A trespasser is someone who enters the premises without an invitation. It is possible for the owner of the property to give notice of the possibility of injury when the owner knows it is likely that trespassers will enter the premises. This requirement applies to conditions that the owner knows to be likely to cause serious injury or death, and when the condition isn’t obvious.

Children

When the owner knows that uninvited children are likely to be on the premises, the owner must give notice of dangerous conditions that are likely to cause serious injury or death. If there is a condition on the property that is dangerous, and artificial (not natural), but likely to attract children, the homeowner has a duty to eliminate the danger or otherwise reasonably protect the child. Examples of artificial conditions that are attractive to children are:

  • Vehicles
  • Trampolines
  • Swimming Pools

In determining responsibility of the owner of the premises, some states take the reason the guest is on the property into consideration. Invitees who are on the property for the commercial gain of the owner are afforded the most protection against slip and fall injuries, while trespassers are afforded the least.

This article is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Please contact an attorney in your local area for more information about premises liability law.

Additional Legal Pages: For more information about premise liabilities please visit Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA.