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Commercial trucks like tractor-trailers, big rigs, and eighteen-wheelers can weigh up to 20 times as much as the average passenger vehicle, almost guaranteeing the destruction of smaller vehicles involved in a crash.
When a passenger vehicle is involved in an accident with a commercial truck, the chance that there is a fatality or serious injury is substantially increased.
What Should I do if I am in an Accident Involving a Truck?
- The first thing you should do is seek medical attention if it is needed. Keep in mind you may net feel your injuries until days after the accident.
- If the accident has not been reported then be sure to report the accident to authorities.
- Stay at the accident scene and collect information from the truck driver such as name, phone number, and insurance information.
- Take photos if possible of damage to your vehicle and the truck.
- If there are witnesses, ask them to give you a quick video witness statement using your phone.
- Find a personal injury lawyer that has experience in your area with commercial trucking accidents.
- If you are contacted by the trucking company’s insurance company direct them to your attorney.
How are Truck Accidents Different From Auto Accidents?
Accidents involving a commercial truck are typically more serious than accidents involving two cars. Usually the party in the automobile has much more damage and the injuries are much worse.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Trucking Accident?
Although commercial truck drivers are professionals who have special training and must adhere to special safety regulations, many truckers and the companies they work for ignore potential safety hazards. When safety hazards go unchecked, people can end up getting hurt.
There is typically more data such as driver logs, electronic onboard records, logs from the trucking company, etc… that might offer more evidence into who is at fault in a truck accident. The truck driver, the trucking company, the person leasing the truck, third party maintenance company, manufacturer, and the cargo shipper/loader can all be held liable.
If you are in a crash with a commercial truck caused by a negligent third-party, an experienced personal injury lawyer can pursue compensation from any one of the following parties:
The Truck Driver
A driver can be held liable if they are speeding, tailgating, texting, under the influence or not following traffic laws. Fault also depends on whether the driver is an employee or an independent contractor.
If the owner of the truck trailer acts negligently, they may be held responsible for an accident. Many times companies place unrealistic expectations on drivers, which forces their employees to ignore federal rules and regulations. An overworked driver is more likely to cause an accident than one who gets the recommended hours of sleep each night.
Person who leased the truck
If someone is leasing the truck, they can be held liable in place of the owner.
Third-party maintenance and repair company
If a trucking company hires a third party to maintain their trucks, they may be at fault if they are negligent during their inspections.
A poorly designed tire that explodes in the middle of a highway or a defective tire that causes an accident may be the fault of the manufacturer.
Improperly loaded and overloaded cargo can make it harder for a driver to properly control their truck. Whoever is in charge of loading or shipping the cargo may be held liable.
Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
Poor or Improper Truck Maintenance
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck companies to complete the following safety checks. Failure to properly maintain a commercial truck can be grounds for legal action.
Truck carriers are expected to:
- Complete a pre-trip inspection to ensure safe condition of the truck and cargo.
- Review and sign the most current vehicle inspection report and verify that needed repairs were made.
- Consistently inspect, repair, and maintain all trucks within their control.
- Complete an end-of-the-day inspection and a written report to document any new defects or deficiencies discovered during a truck’s use.
Yes, it’s easy to assume that a driver is the only one at fault for a trucking accident, but the truth is there are several things that can cause a crash:
- Brake Failure: Because of their size, trucks require more time and room to brake. Poor maintenance can cause a truck’s brakes to fail when they are needed most.
- Defective Head & Tail Lights: Functioning head and tail lights are an important aspect of commercial truck safety. When the head and tail lights of a truck malfunction, it can make entire stretches of highway dangerous to travel on.
- Tire Defects: The tires used on commercial trucks usually wear out much quicker than the tires on passenger vehicles. If a company doesn’t frequently monitor the condition of the tires on their trucks, it can result in tread separation and blowouts.
- Rear Guard Failure: The metal bar on the back of a commercial truck is called a “rear guard.” Although these devices are supposed to be a safety feature, they can fail to work when hit by a vehicle traveling faster than 35 mph.
- Partially Loaded Cargo: Liquids that are partially loaded can slosh back and forth, upsetting the truck’s center of gravity and making it more likely to rollover.
- Unsecured Cargo: Loose cargo poses a danger to other drivers on the road and increases the likelihood of the truck overturning.
Truck drivers can be subject to long hours on the road. There are trucking industry regulations that attempt to limit this. However, meeting deadlines and sometimes weather can lead to long hours.
Why Hire Elkus & Sisson, P.C.?
Medical expenses and psychological injuries from a commercial truck accident can be overwhelming, which is why it’s important to enlist legal guidance as soon as possible.
At Elkus & Sisson, PC, our personal injury attorneys are here to help you obtain fair compensation for any injuries you have sustained in a truck accident. We can launch a thorough investigation into your accident, negotiate with the insurance company and go to court if needed, all to protect your rights.
Our law firm strives to help accident victims obtain the compensation and justice they deserve. With nearly two decades of legal experience, we have gained a stellar reputation for providing professional and courteous one-on-one services.
If you or a loved has been involved in a truck accident, it is important that you consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. We can work tirelessly on your behalf to identify which parties are responsible for your injuries and how much you can pursue in damages.