Out of all of the vehicle accidents that happen daily, truck accidents are some of the most dangerous. These crashes result in injuries and fatalities at a much higher rate than accidents involving passenger vehicles.
A truck accident can result in significant medical expenses, impact your ability to earn a living, and cause chronic pain and permanent disability. Given these impacts, the question of who should be held responsible is very important.
In truth, the answer depends on the unique circumstances of each accident. Multiple parties may be at fault, but the first place to look is always the driver of the truck.
The experienced truck accident lawyers at Colombo Law can help you hold the driver and other parties accountable for your injuries and losses. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Common Examples of Truck Driver Negligence
Like all drivers, truck drivers have a responsibility – known as a “duty of care” – to other drivers on the road. Because commercial vehicles are so much more dangerous than passenger vehicles, their responsibility to operate the rig safely is that much greater.
Despite the potentially catastrophic consequences of a wreck, truck drivers still commonly engage in the following unsafe behaviors:
A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Compare that to a typical passenger vehicle, which might weigh only a few thousand pounds, and you can understand just how dangerous a speeding 18-wheeler is.
Unfortunately, truck drivers do not always exercise the caution they should, deciding to speed regardless of the danger. Whether they are driving aggressively, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or simply not paying attention, their negligence has the potential to change – and even end – others’ lives in a heartbeat.
Following Other Vehicles Too Closely
Because of the size and weight of commercial vehicles, they are not as responsive as passenger vehicles. Big rigs cannot speed up, turn, or slow down nearly as quickly. Hence, while all drivers should avoid tailgating, the danger posed by tailgating truck drivers can be critical.
If something unexpected happens in front of them – such as a driver coming to a quick stop – good reflexes will not be enough to avert a collision. The truck driver will likely not be able to maneuver quickly enough to avoid a serious crash.
Distracted driving comes in many forms, from texting and talking on the phone to eating and watching videos. Even when driving long stretches on open roads, truck drivers have a responsibility to remain vigilant and attentive at all times. When they neglect to do so and this failure results in an accident, they may be held liable for the subsequent damages.
Errors in Turning and Lane Changes
Commercial trucks have much larger blind spots than the average car. As such, truck drivers must exercise greater caution when turning and changing lanes to ensure they are not cutting off other drivers.
Unfortunately, failure to check blind spots, failure to merge correctly, and failure to leave enough room during turns can put the drivers of other vehicles in harm’s way. At highway speeds, an accident with a semi-truck can be devastating for those in other vehicles.
Driving While Fatigued
Truck drivers are under tight deadlines to deliver their loads. As such, driving while fatigued is a serious problem in the trucking industry.
Hours of service are the federal regulations that limit how long commercial drivers can operate before they are required to rest. Unfortunately, statistics show that these rules are largely ignored. One study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that more than one-eighth of the truck drivers involved in accidents were fatigued at the time of the crash.
While truck drivers must understand the impact fatigue can have on their ability to drive safely, it is worth noting that avoiding fatigue is also the responsibility of truck drivers’ employers. If trucking companies are pushing their drivers to spend more time on the road than legally allowed, they may also be held liable for accidents caused by drowsy driving.
Failure to Inspect the Vehicle and/or the Load
Truck drivers have responsibilities before they even start driving. One of these responsibilities is to inspect their vehicles after each day and submit a report that details the functioning of multiple parts of their trucks, from the brakes to the windshield wipers.
When drivers fail to carry out inspections that would have uncovered a potential danger, it could lead to an avoidable accident. If this is the case, the driver may be held liable for damages.
Holding the Truck Driver Responsible
All of these types of negligence could mean that a truck driver will be held liable for an accident. However, establishing that the truck driver is at fault and recovering compensation requires a thorough investigation, the gathering of evidence, negotiating with insurance companies, and possibly winning a case in court.
Further, it is critical to keep in mind that other parties may also be liable for a truck accident, including trucking companies, parts manufacturers, loading companies, and others. As such, truck accident claims can be incredibly complex. Truck accident victims benefit from the legal support, guidance, and representation of an experienced truck accident attorney.
At Colombo Law, we understand the tremendous damage that can be caused by semi-trucks. When truck drivers fail to exercise the caution that is called for in their occupation, it can upend lives – lives that may never be the same again.
This is why the focus of our law firm is helping victims of truck accidents pursue compensation for the damages they have sustained due to the fault of another, including truck drivers, trucking companies, and other parties. We have obtained substantial verdicts and settlements on behalf of victims and their families, and we will fight for the compensation you and your loved ones deserve.
If you have been hurt by a truck, please call Colombo Law at (304) 599-4229 today for a free case review. Our truck accident attorneys serve clients in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia.