Truck Accidents: Common Causes
Due to their immense size, a collision between a tractor trailer and another vehicle can cause severe damage. In some cases, crashes involving only a commercial truck can cause injury to the driver, cause damage to the truck and shut down traffic for hours. There are a few common reasons why commercial truck crashes occur.
Crashes Caused By Passenger Car Drivers
It can be a challenge for the driver of a passenger vehicle to operate safely near commercial trucks. This is because the truck may take longer to brake, change lanes or otherwise react if a car suddenly gets in its path.
In many cases, accidents occur when a driver tries to change lanes or otherwise move past a truck when it is not safe to do so. For example, motorists may drive in a truck's no-zone, which is a zone in the driver's blind spot. This can increase the risk of an accident. A driver may also attempt to drive between two trucks in an effort to pass or otherwise maneuver around them.
If a driver suddenly slows down or otherwise operates his or her vehicle in an erratic manner, it can be hard for the truck driver to react safely. It may be necessary to brake suddenly, which can cause the truck to swerve into other lanes of traffic or tip over on the highway.
In some cases, the driver of a passenger vehicle may be at fault for an accident if he or she causes turbulence when passing in front of the truck. The crosswinds could make it harder for the truck to stay upright as it or its load may become unstable.
Commercial Truck Drivers At Fault
It takes training and practice to become a competent commercial truck driver. A lack of proper training can cause accidents, potentially leaving the driver's employer liable. In addition to knowing the rules of the road and how to operate the truck, there are many federal and state regulations that a driver must adhere to. For instance, a driver who is transporting materials can only drive up to 11 hours after 10 hours off.
In addition, drivers may not drive eight or more hours after their last off-duty period unless they have slept for at least 30 minutes. While these rules are in place to protect truck drivers and everyone else on the road, they aren't always followed. Drivers may try to finish their deliveries as quickly as possible to earn more money. Their employers may also require that they stay on the road as much as possible and push the limits of federal regulations.
No matter how skilled the driver is, they are susceptible to getting into an accident if their truck is not in good condition. Federal regulations require motor carriers to either self-inspect or have their vehicles inspected by a qualified inspector. The inspection is good for 12 months, and documentation must be retained at all times to prove that it took place.
All important components of a commercial truck, including its tires, brakes and air braking components, must be inspected. Ventilation and other systems may also need to be inspected from time to time to make sure that they are in good working order. In addition to being held responsible for damages if a malfunction leads to an accident, truck operators may be subject to other civil penalties.
If You've Been Injured, Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial vehicle that you were driving, an attorney could be of help. In the event that the driver of a passenger vehicle was at fault, you may be able to file both a workers' compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit depending on the circumstances of the case.
Passenger vehicle drivers and occupants, as well as others who have been hurt in an accident that was caused by a commercial vehicle, may also benefit from seeing an attorney. They may be entitled to recoup the cost of medical bills, lost wages and lost future earnings. An attorney may be able to review the case and collect evidence to verify your version of events. Cases may be resolved through a formal trial or through a negotiated settlement.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.