Lookout Pass is a stretch of I-90 that crosses the border of Idaho and Montana at an elevation of 4, 711 feet. According to the Idaho Transportation Department, the pass has a steep grade for a stretch of five miles at 6% grade. This is steep enough for the state to put runaway truck ramps.
In the Winter, the pass can become a tangled mess with jackknifed semi-trucks and stuck passenger vehicles strewn across the freeway.
The most obvious problem is the snow and the steep grade. From October to May there is a potential for snow, and in the middle of winter, the temps rarely break above freezing. The steep grade can be treacherous for trucks trying to get down off the pass safely with their load. Each curve can be a challenge, and passenger vehicles are darting in and around the trucks adding to the challenge.
Both Idaho State Police and Montana Highway Patrol say that the biggest problem is a jackknifed semi-truck. At times, there are five to six at one time causing a nightmare for travelers. A jackknife usually happens when the truck is traveling downgrade and then starts to slide, and if the speed of the trailer is greater than the speed of the cab, then the truck folds in on itself.
The most common is downhill on a curve, and the driver applies too much break when trying to stop the truck. When this happens, any other vehicles near the truck are in danger of being hit. Sometimes even a slight bump to another semi-truck can cause another jackknife.
Accidents and Injuries
A jackknife alone doesn’t usually cause an injury accident, but in a slide, the truck is out of the driver’s control and anything in its path can be in danger. Smaller cars and trucks can be stuck underneath or crushed up against a concrete barrier.
Not all accidents are the fault of the semi-truck driver as many are caused by impatient motorists trying to get around a truck, and when they do, they don’t leave enough room for the truck to stop if traffic slows down.
Anytime a semi-truck—which can weigh as much as 80,000 lbs with a full load—hits another vehicle, the odds are against the occupants of the smaller vehicle.
Lookout Pass Semi-Trucks and Liability
If you get in an accident with a jack-knifing semi-truck, whose fault is it? Common sense says it’s the truck drivers, but that isn’t always the case. In all accidents, the law looks at which driver’s negligence caused the accident.
If a semi-truck driver jackknifed and hit a car causing injury to those inside, the law will look at the reason for the jackknife along with other factors to determine negligence. If it turns out that another driver caused the jackknife, then there might be more than one driver at fault.
Truck Driver Insurance
By law, all trucking companies and independent truck drivers have to have insurance that covers their trucks, equipment, and their drivers for any injuries caused by the driver. In most cases, the minimum amount is between $750,000 and $1 million in liability coverage.
Often times, the liability can be split between drivers, loaders, trailer owners, and other companies that had a part in that particular load. The driver is responsible for the operation of the rig, but the load might have been improperly secured by a third party, or there was an equipment failure that was the fault of another third party.
So when an accident involving a commercial truck injures or kills someone, then there might be several sources of compensation for the victims.
Level the Field
While it’s good to have multiple sources of compensation, it also means that there might be lawyers and agents for several insurance companies and truck companies all trying to put the blame on you for your injuries. The best way to handle this is to get some legal muscle on your side.
Talk to an attorney who understands the dangers of Lookout Pass and has experience getting justice from negligent drivers and their trucking companies.
Contact a Coeur d’Alene Accident Lawyer.
Established in Spokane in 1948, Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S. is licensed and practices in both Washington and Idaho. We are committed to providing our clients with the absolute highest quality legal representation. If our Coeur d’Alene Car Accident Lawyers represent you for your accident case, you have our assurance that we will use our absolute best efforts to win your case. Contact us after any accident resulting in a serious injury for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation. We will only offer you advice which is in your best interest.