Many contributing factors can culminate in a tragic truck accident. Driver error is only one of the many possible reasons that collisions happen. Sometimes, the driver may not have done anything wrong.
In one study conducted in 2007 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, the top conditions associated with large truck accidents include:
- Brake problems
- Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
- Prescription drug use
- Traveling too fast for conditions
- Unfamiliarity with roadway
- Roadway problems
- Being required to stop (traffic control device, crosswalk)
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Inadequate surveillance
Each truck accident case is different. The unique circumstances surrounding each accident make it necessary to investigate who exactly is liable for the damages caused. Having experienced lawyers at your side can help you understand how to prove liability and receive compensation for the injuries you sustained.
When the Truck Driver is At Fault
Trucks can cause greater damage than passenger vehicles, due to their immense size, and require more skill to maneuver. That is why truck drivers are required to go through training that qualifies them to drive large vehicles safely. Unfortunately, despite their qualifications on paper, truck drivers may be negligent and cause collisions.
The 2007 study stated that 23 percent of truck accidents occur due to speeding. When drivers cause accidents by speeding or making illegal maneuvers, this could make them liable.
Trucks have more blind spots than a typical passenger vehicle which increases the risk of getting into an accident. Truck drivers who did not take adequate precautions before a lane change or turn may share liability for their collisions.
Due to the weight of a large commercial truck, it may be harder and slower for the vehicle to come to a full stop than a passenger vehicle. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the drivers to be alert and ensure that there is enough space between the truck and the vehicle they are following.
Other Possibly Liable Parties
When a truck accident occurs, additional parties besides the two drivers are automatically involved. For example, there’s at least the trucking company and the truck maintenance crew.
The companies that truck drivers work for are responsible to care for their employees as well as the trucks that they own. If they were careless, giving drivers only inadequate rest and ignoring government regulations, they could be liable for resulting accidents.
Due to pressure in the trucking industry, some drivers may be overworked and pushed to meet deadlines. There are laws in place to protect drivers from being overworked since a driver can only drive for up to 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours of off-duty time.
Despite this, driver fatigue was shown to be a factor in 13 percent of accidents in the 2007 study. If trucking companies had given unrealistic deadlines to their employees, this could potentially be a contributing factor to the related accidents. If they also failed to provide adequate training to equip their truck drivers with the necessary skills, the trucking company could be liable.
Trucking companies may hire maintenance companies to take care of the trucks they own. If the maintenance company did not repair a problem that directly caused the accident, then a maintenance company could share the blame for the accident. This is a common issue, as brake problems are one of the top factors reported among truck accidents.
A truck is safe and functional only when each automobile part works correctly. The company that manufactured a faulty part or created a product with a design flaw that contributed to the cause of the accident could also be held liable.
Trucks carry a much higher load than passenger vehicles. Therefore, loading the cargo correctly is critical because it must be within the weight limits that federal law regulates. The Department of Transportation sets the limit to 80,000 pounds. If the truck is overweight, it makes it harder for the driver to brake and maneuver the car. Additionally, if cargo is incorrectly placed in a truck, there is the danger of a cargo-shift which can cause a truck to roll over.
State government agencies
The state or city government takes care of many roads for the public’s safety. If improper road conditions led to the auto accident, then the governmental agency responsible for road maintenance could also be at fault.
Other drivers sharing the road
An accident may have involved more than two vehicles. The actions of another driver could have caused a domino effect involving the truck driver and others.
What If I Am Partly At Fault Too?
If you believe that you may have contributed to your accident, it is vital to understand how local state law applies. Depending on the state that you live in, liability may be determined using comparative negligence or contributory negligence rules. You may still be able to receive compensation under certain circumstances.
The rule of contributory negligence mandates that if you contribute to any amount of fault in the accident, then you will not be able to collect any compensation for the damages sustained. This would mean that even if you were even found to be only 1 percent liable in an accident, then you will not be able to collect any compensation for the damages you’ve sustained.
The rule of comparative negligence also takes into consideration the percentage for which you are at fault. There are two types of comparative negligence – pure and modified.
Pure comparative negligence means that you can receive partial compensation in proportion for the percentage you share fault. For example, if you were 25 percent responsible for the accident, then your compensation will be reduced by 25 percent. This would also mean that even if you are 99 percent at fault, you would still be able to receive compensation for the remaining 1 percent,
Under the rule of modified comparative negligence law, if you were at fault for over a specified percent (usually 50 or 51 percent), then you may not be able to receive any compensation at all.
Judd Shaw Injury Lawyers Can Help Determine Who is Liable
The complexity of truck accidents can make it harder to determine liability in comparison with passenger vehicle accidents. Besides the truck driver, there are also many other parties who may need to be investigated for liability. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, Judd Shaw Injury Lawyers can help you.
We put our clients first according to the Judd Shaw Way, by which you can get the highest level of legal service. Our New Jersey truck accident attorneys have many years of experience helping our clients and are dedicated to helping you.