Truck accidents may involve personal vehicles or larger trucks, like semi-trailers, big rigs, or other commercial transport vehicles. When commercial trucks are involved, things can get complicated fast. Determining who is at fault for any injuries suffered in the accident is just one of the issues faced in personal injury claims.
Understanding the common causes of truck accidents can potentially help you determine what actually happened and who or what caused the accident. This is essential to appropriately assigning liability and establishing negligence for a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Only about 3% of accidents resulting in injuries involve large trucks but because of the size and weight of these vehicles, serious injuries often occur when trucks are involved in accidents. Assigning responsibility for a trucking accident can be a challenge but knowing the common causes of trucking accidents may help.
Truck Accidents with Companies
Brake and Tire Failure
Defective, improperly maintained, and old brakes and tires can cause big rig accidents. When a tire blows or brakes fail a heavily loaded or even an empty semi can be difficult or impossible to control.
Manufacturers, leasing companies, shippers, and others often argue about who is to blame for the mechanical failure that caused the accident. This infighting also affects who is responsible for paying insurance claims and personal injury damages.
If it is determined the brakes or tires failed due to defective manufacturing, then the manufacturer is at fault. If however the brakes were not properly maintained, it could be the fault of the leasing company, the truck’s owner, or a company to which maintenance work is contracted out.
Truck Driver Error
Driver error is among the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents, including trucking accidents. It may appear that fault is clear when driver error is involved but it can be complicated.
The driver may hold partial responsibility, but his or her employer may also be named in a personal injury claim. Even the company or individual that contracted the trucking company to ship their goods can be part of the claim.
Who is liable depends on the circumstances that led to the driver’s error. Unreasonably long work hours, unregulated drivers, and drivers that are not properly screened or drug tested are a few instances in which liability gets blurry in personal injury claims. These and other factors can influence who holds primarily or partial responsibility for accidents involving driver error.
Knowing Who is Responsible
State laws govern most personal injury accidents involving vehicles. Claims that deal with big trucks still fall under state laws but federal laws and standards regulate all activities in the trucking industry. They dictate the operation and administration of commercial trucking vehicles, including insurance coverage, vehicle maintenance, and driver requirements.
The truck driver and other driver(s) involved in the accident are only a few of the individuals that may play roles in a personal injury claim. Other parties often include:
- The owner of the truck
- The leasing company or individual that rented the truck from its owner
- The manufacturer(s) of truck and its parts, including the tires, brakes, frame, or other mechanical components
- The logistics company or individual who loaded the truck
- The company or individual contracted to maintain or service the truck
- The company or owner of the property at which the truck is stored when not in use
An attorney familiar with trucking accident claims can assist you in determining fault, naming defendants, and demanding damages or compensation. They can potentially clear away some of the confusion about the accident details and may even be able to speed up the review and resolution of a claim. If you'd like to speak to an attorney for input on your case, fill out the Free Case Evaluation form.