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. The legal weight of an eighteen-wheeler is up to 80,000 lbs. This is around sixteen times heavier than the average car. Due to the weight of one of these big rigs, it takes 40% longer for a truck to come to a complete stop. which means that a fender bender can quickly become a catastrophic multi-vehicle accident if the driver does not leave enough space.
Assigning responsibility for a trucking accident can be a challenge but knowing the common causes of trucking accidents may help.
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. Although truck drivers are held to a high safety standard, also face high pressure to meet their logistics goals. This combination can be dangerous because if any of these precautions are disregarded the results could be catastrophic.
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 pressure from management 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.
Some common factors to consider in a truck accident are:
- Speed - As mentioned, trucks can take 40% longer to come to a complete stop than cars. If the driver is speeding, the required stopping distance becomes even longer.
- Alertness - At the end of a long shift drowsiness can begin to set in. If this is is a factor in the accident you will then need to determine if the company was pressuring the driver to work longer than they were able to stay alert for.
- Inclement Weather - Throughout the trip, drivers may experience multiple driving conditions. It is important that they take care to adjust to each one. This is especially important if a semi-truck is being driven without a trailer. This is also known as bobtailing. Since these semi trucks are optimized to carry thousands of pounds, the handling becomes worse when it is driven without that weight. Drivers know this and should react accordingly.
Truck Accidents with Companies
Find out how an accident with a specific company can affect your personal injury claim:
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
Accident Scenarios with a Truck
Accidents with trucks happen almost every day. They often can cause serious damages and injuries. Here are some scenerios of accidents with trucks and what you can do next to ensure your rights are protected.
- Accidents Caused When Side-Swiped by a Truck
- Accidents Caused When Rear Ended by a Truck
- Accidents Caused by a Truck That Didn’t Use a Turn Signal
- Accidents Caused by a Side Impact With A Truck
- Accidents Caused When Forced Off the Road By a Truck
- Accidents Caused by a Head-On Collision With A Truck
Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney
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.