Who Is Liable For A Large Truck Accident?
While it may be obvious that the driver of a large truck who caused an accident is responsible for the damages that he or she has caused, the question of liability in a truck accident is far more complex than just that. Unlike in a traffic accident that only involves passenger vehicles, there are numerous parties who may be liable when a large truck is involved in a traffic accident. These parties may include: The driver of the truck, The company that employs the driver of the truck, The manufacturer of the truck, The truck maintenance company, The company that loaded the truck.
Each of these parties may be held jointly and severally liable for their role in causing a traffic accident. Each could be required to pay for any injuries and property damage caused by the traffic accident.
Even if the truck driver is found to be solely factually responsible for causing a traffic accident, his or her employer may be held legally liable under the legal principle of vicarious liability or “ respondeat superior” for the actions of the driver. Other parties listed above may also be liable due to any role that they may have played in causing the accident, whether it be from improper
maintenance of a large truck or improperly loading the vehicle.
Only a personal injury lawyer with experience in large truck accidents will be able to determine who may be at fault for your injuries.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Accidents involving commercial freight vehicles and large trucks have a number of causes. Like any other vehicle on the road, a large truck accident can be caused by driver error. However, large truck accidents can also be caused by inherent design flaws present in all large trucks.
Blind Spots : Commercial freight vehicles have a large and bulky frame present in both the tractor and the trailer. Due to this design there are many blind spots where a truck operator
cannot see. A commercial freight vehicle operator cannot see spots on either side of the vehicle, as well as directly in front of and behind of the vehicle. This means that it is a common occurrence for an operator of such a vehicle to not be able to see passenger vehicles on the road. This can lead to a large truck either merging onto a much smaller passenger vehicle or hitting them with their trailers when making turns.
Improperly Secured Loads : An improperly secured load can cause a large truck to tip over or lose control while traveling along the road. Contents in the trailer may shift due to a sudden stop or sharp turn. When this happens the driver of a large truck may not be able to maintain complete control over the vehicle and cause an accident.
Impaired Drivers : While any driver or operator of a vehicle can drive impaired, when large truck drivers do it, they pose a greater danger than any passenger vehicle could. Commercial freight vehicles can legally haul up to 40 tons of freight while traveling. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study found that 15 percent of all truck drivers in trucking accidents had marijuana in their system. Another 12 percent had stimulants in their system used to keep them awake. This does not even address the amount of truck drivers who drink and drive.
Fatigued Drivers : Endemic amongst commercial truck drivers is the problem of fatigued drivers and operators. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study has shown that 13 percent of all commercial vehicle drivers who were involved in a crash were fatigued at the time of the crash. Driver fatigue may be due to a lack of adequate sleep, extended work hours and a combination of other factors.
Many large truck drivers operate their vehicles while fatigued due to pressure by their employers to deliver large amounts of goods in a short period of time in order to fulfill as many deliveries as possible. Financial incentive leads many drivers to push the safe limits of traveling without sleep putting everyone else on the road at risk for an accident.
What Damages May I Recover?
You are entitled to recover compensation for all damages and injuries that you have suffered in a traffic accident with a large truck. Your recovery can include: Lost wages, Damages to your vehicle, Payment for hospital bills, Compensation for future medical bills due to lasting injuries, Damages for pain and suffering, In some cases punitive damages, Recovering damages in a traffic accident that involves a large truck can be much more difficult than in cases only involving passenger vehicles. This is due to the fact that many parties may become involved in the recovery process. These parties are usually large companies that retain attorneys of their own to protect their interests when a lawsuit arises. Most victims of a large truck accident do not have the time, resources or experience to adequately handle their claim while focusing on recovering and getting on with their life.