Truck accidents are some of the deadliest vehicle accidents in the country. Roughly 500,000 truck accidents occur each year in the United States, and truck accidents account for about 11 percent of all vehicle accident fatalities each year. Every driver needs to understand the dangers that large commercial trucks present, and they should know their options for legal recourse after suffering damages in these accidents.
One of the most difficult aspects of pursuing a truck accident claim is determining liability for the incident. It is common for a truck accident to implicate more than one party as liable for the resulting damages.
Potentially Liable Parties in a Truck Accident Claim
Commercial truck drivers have a higher duty of care to drive safely than private individuals driving for their own purposes. Since truck driving is their primary job duty, they have a professional responsibility to operate their vehicles as safely as possible. Truck drivers can cause accidents through negligent errors, inattention, and driving under the influence. Still, it is also possible for a truck driver to share liability with another party such as the owner of the truck, the trucking company that employs the driver, or a third party:
- Truck drivers can face sole liability for a trucking accident if they cause the accident through negligence. This can include speeding, aggressive driving, failure to use signals where appropriate, mishandling their vehicles, or driving under the influence. Truck drivers must also adhere to hours of service regulations and take rest breaks when required to prevent fatigued driving.
- A trucking company can face liability for a truck driver’s actions if the evidence shows the trucking company did not follow proper procedures in the driver’s hiring, training, and job assignment. Trucking companies must complete necessary background checks and verify a driver’s credentials before assigning them delivery routes.
- Third parties such as other private drivers, maintenance companies, or parts manufacturers can also absorb liability for trucking accidents.
These are just a few of the possible challenges a plaintiff in a trucking accident claim could face when establishing liability for their damages.
Most Common Reasons for Trucking Accidents Caused by Truck Drivers
Many trucking accidents implicate drivers as solely liable for the damages resulting from these incidents. In these situations, the truck driver can be entirely responsible for paying the victim’s losses. While their personal auto insurance policy may cover some of the victim’s losses, it is highly unlikely their auto insurance alone will fully cover the damages from a serious trucking accident.
When truck accidents happen due to the negligent actions of truck drivers, some of the most common causes include:
- Driver fatigue. Truck drivers typically spend several hours driving each day. The rush to complete deliveries on time sometimes encourages drivers to operate their vehicles longer than they reasonably should without rest. Falling asleep at the wheel is incredibly dangerous, and driving while significantly fatigued can be almost as hazardous as driving under the influence.
- Driving under the influence. Unfortunately, some truck drivers cope with their jobs’ stresses by consuming alcohol and other illicit drugs before driving. These substances can significantly reduce reaction time and situational awareness. A truck driver who causes an accident because of driving under the influence will likely face criminal penalties in addition to civil liability for victims’ damages and may be unable to hold a commercial driver’s license in the future.
- Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous for any driver, but a distracted truck driver can inflict catastrophic damage if they cause an accident. Truck drivers must abide by industry regulations and ensure they do not become distracted on the road.
- Truck driver inexperience and lack of training are also common causes of truck accidents. These incidents might implicate their employers if those employers failed to vet drivers properly before hiring them and assigning them work.
- Negligence. Truck drivers must operate their vehicles safely and abide by posted traffic signals and speed limits. If a truck driver speeds, drives aggressively or commits a moving violation, these actions can easily cause catastrophic accidents.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury due to a truck driver’s actions, an experienced attorney could help you determine liability for your damages and pursue compensation on your behalf.
At the Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, we understand how devastating the effects of a trucking accident can be for victims and their families. Contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team to determine your best available options for legal recourse following a trucking accident.