Truck accidents are often devastating for the victims involved. After a run-in with a commercial vehicle, you may wonder what steps to take next. Should you sue the trucking company for compensation? The answer might be obvious, but winning a fair settlement is difficult. You must be able to establish negligence played a part in your crash.
One study from the University of Michigan revealed that only 16 percent of truck drivers are responsible for causing accidents. This means most truck accidents are caused by passenger vehicles. Trucking companies know this and are well prepared for a fight. For accident victims, winning compensation can be an uphill battle. Establishing which party acted negligently is the key to victory.
What Are the Main Negligent Causes of Truck Accidents?
According to the FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study, there is rarely one single factor that causes a trucking accident. The events that lead up to these incidents can be complex and may involve multiple vehicles.
In establishing a legal claim, the main goal will be to find evidence indicating which party acted negligently and caused the accident. The following are some of the leading causes of negligent truck accident behavior.
Commercial vehicles are often on the road many hours a day, covering hundreds of miles. This requires all mechanical operations to be in excellent order. If any mechanical part of the truck has a defect, the results can be catastrophic. For example, if a tire blows or the brakes stop working, a commercial driver can lose control of his or her rig.
Therefore, truck drivers are legally required to do pre-trip and post-trip inspections each day. These inspections ensure mechanical parts are operational. Failing to do so can be considered an act of negligence.
Lack of maintenance
Many accidents are caused because drivers do not do their inspections. They may have no idea a problem is brewing until it is too late. Sometimes, a trucking company may hold off on fixing a potential problem to save money. Failing to keep up with necessary maintenance is negligent.
Driving while fatigued
Truck drivers work long hours and do not get to go home for weeks at a time. Worse yet, companies place high expectations of getting loads delivered. All this, combined, can lead to a driver being drowsy and fatigued. Fatigued driving has similar effects to being under the influence of alcohol. It can slow down reaction time and influence a driver’s judgment.
A driver running late to make a delivery may think it is okay to speed. The faster a heavy vehicle moves, though, the harder it is to control and stop. If a speeding truck driver attempts to make a turn, the vehicle can flip over.
Stopping distance is also increased dramatically at high speeds. A truck driver who hurries to make a delivery on time puts the lives of others at risk.
Driving while under the influence
Driving a commercial vehicle can be a lonely, demanding job. Truckers who live this lifestyle often turn to drugs and alcohol to cope. These substances can cause vision impairment, slow reaction time, and sleepiness.
According to CNN Business, the US is short 80,000 truck drivers, causing a significant supply chain shortage. By 2030, the shortage is expected to expand to 160,000. If companies do not have drivers transporting loads behind the wheel, they are not making money.
Unfortunately, this gives trucking companies the incentive to push new recruits out on the road before they are ready. Inexperienced drivers are more likely to have higher crash rates than experienced drivers.
Our smartphones make it easier to be distracted today than ever before. Texting is one primary reason for that. Many drivers do not have the opportunity to pull over to answer a message or check their Facebook accounts. This can be tough if you are on the road and away from home for long periods. Other distractions include eating while driving, changing the radio, and watching the scenery.
Not all accidents are caused by drivers. Sometimes, the roads are in bad condition and not adequately maintained. This may pin negligence on a local or state-wide municipality.
Regardless of why your truck accident occurred, you will need to prove the negligent behaviors behind it – or better yet, leave this complicated task in the hands of a trustworthy lawyer at Judd Shaw Injury Law. We will do our best to examine the collision and establish the true cause.
Elements Needed to Establish Negligence in Truck Accidents
Winning compensation after a truck accident goes beyond proving negligence. You must bring four elements together that show who is liable and why. The following are the four elements needed to prove who should be held responsible.
1. Duty of care
You must first prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This means establishing that some relationship exists between the two parties. If a duty of care between them exists, then both parties must show extreme care in how they operate around each other.
An example of this is driving a vehicle. The relationship is you are sharing the road with other drivers. You have to drive with reasonable care. To your knowledge, your vehicle is in good working order. You are not incapacitated or under the influence. Every driver owes this to other drivers on the road.
2. Breach of duty
The second element is proving that the defendant breached his or her duty. Using the previous example, you did decide to drive while under the influence. By doing so, you breached your duty, knowing full well you had no right to drive while intoxicated. You broke the law and put other people’s lives at risk.
3. The breach of care caused injuries
The third element involves showing causation. You owed other drivers a duty of care. You breached that duty of care by driving while intoxicated. While driving, you lost control and hit another vehicle, injuring the occupants. If you were not drunk, you likely would not have hit the other vehicle, and the occupants would be fine.
4. The injuries resulted in loss
The final element involves proving that the injuries resulted in a loss. You became intoxicated, hit the other vehicle, injured the occupants, and now they experienced a loss of some kind. Injury cases often involve a financial loss, such as property damage. Accident victims can likely miss time off work or receive massive medical bills.
To receive compensation for their losses, the victims must prove all four elements were present. If any are missing, you may not be able to win. This is why establishing liability can be difficult and should be handled by an experienced attorney.
Call Judd Shaw Injury Law for Help in Establishing Trucker Negligence
Truck accidents are unforgiving, and the consequences are often severe. If you were injured in a run-in with a commercial vehicle, you would need help negotiating a fair settlement. You should never let a powerful trucking company claim the accident was your fault. Instead, contact Judd Shaw Injury Law today for the justice you deserve.
We know how much a settlement means to you and your family. Injuries can keep people out of work for weeks, months, or even years. Our team has helped families receive over $240 million in fair settlements. Guided by our core values, we will go to work immediately, gathering the evidence needed to prove the other party’s negligence. We call that the Judd Shaw Way.