Due to their size and weight, tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, and other trucks can cause catastrophic or fatal injuries during a collision. The most recent research conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) showed that large trucks and buses accounted for 5,237 fatal accidents in 2019.
Because truck accident law is complicated and the stakes are so high, these cases require the services of an experienced lawyer who specializes in truck accident lawsuits.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
While truck drivers should drive with extra caution, accidents still happen. Below are some of the common causes of truck accidents.
Trucks Are Difficult to Control
Following too closely, whether in front of or behind a semitruck, is a frequent reason for accidents. Due to their size, large trucks can’t come to an immediate stop.
A passenger car that stops abruptly in front of a semitruck may not be able to avoid getting hit from behind since the trucks need a considerably longer stretch of road to slow down. Similarly, vehicles that follow a semi too closely might not be prepared to brake as frequently as truck drivers do, which could result in a crash.
Driving While Tired
Truck drivers who drive while tired are another frequent cause of accidents. Truck driving is a demanding career, and a shipment could require a truck driver to be on the road for hours at a time. Tired truck drivers are more likely to make reckless decisions, such as failing to check their blind spots for signals of danger.
Due to the demands of the trucking profession, some truck drivers must sit for extended periods at times of day that conflict with their regular sleep habits. Lack of sleep and fatigue from prolongued sitting may result in poor judgment, which might cause a traffic accident.
Another frequent reason for collisions between semitruck drivers and other cars is abrupt lane changes. A rapid lane shift by either vehicle might set off a series of reflexive actions that can make drivers lose control of their vehicles. Before making a lane change, truck drivers should take extra care to ensure their blind spots are empty.
Last but not least, distracted driving might result in collisions between semitrucks and passenger cars. When truck drivers are preoccupied with their phones, radios, or other activities, they might make careless decisions, especially if they aren’t paying attention to the vehicle’s blind zones.
What to Do If You’re Involved in a Truck Accident?
When truck driver has an accidents, here is what you should do immediate after incident:
- Remain calm
- Inform law enforcement authorities about the incident
- Carefully move your automobile off the road if you can safely do so
- Make sure to record any injuries, aches, and pains you may be feeling at the time
- Seek medical attention
- Capture as much information as you can
- Take pictures of the crash scene if you can safely do so
- Cooperate with law authorities
- Avoid claiming personal responsibility for an accident before speaking with a lawyer
These are merely steps to remember if you’re ever in a semitruck collision. However, an attorney would be the best person to advise you on what to do after a truck accident.
Because these massive vehicles are subject to federal and state restrictions, pursuing a claim on your own may rapidly become daunting. Therefore, if you’ve been in a truck accident, it may be beneficial to speak with a skilled group of truck accident lawyers who know the seriousness of these claims.
Who Can Be Liable for a Truck Accident?
A victim might be entitled to compensation if a commercial truck driver was at fault, based on various legal theories discussed below. However, as you will see outlined below, the truck driver is not the only party who may be liable in a truck accident case.
Under certain circumstances, a plaintiff may be able to pursue a claim against the truck driver’s employer if the employee was carrying out a job-related function when the accident happened.
Interstate truck drivers must abide by traffic laws like all other drivers. This means they have a duty of care to everyone else on the road. If they don’t follow that duty of care, they may be legally negligent.
Negligence can be shown when a motorist disobeys a legal obligation to another driver or passenger. Speeding, texting while driving, failing to pay attention to the road, and failing to obey traffic signals are common negligent actions.
Truck drivers have stricter standards than regular drivers. Regulations issued by the FMCSA are relevant in the context of interstate truck drivers. For example, there are strict rules about how long truckers can drive. These rules are designed to prevent trucking accidents caused by driver fatigue.
Vicarious liability, which is in effect in most states, is when one party is liable because of its connection to another party. For instance, if an employee commits negligence while operating within the course and scope of their work, most state laws allow the employer to be held accountable.
In truck accident cases, you might pursue legal action against the trucking firm along with the truck driver.
Some businesses will engage drivers as independent contractors rather than employees to avoid vicarious liability.
However, just because the truck driver is an independent contractor doesn’t mean the employer is in the clear. Other factors are considered when determining an employee/employer relationship, specifically the degree of influence the employer has over the employee.
Commercial truck driving is not for everyone. These huge vehicles require specialized knowledge and skills, which is why employers have special obligations under FMCSA regulations concerning completing background checks.
A valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) with any required endorsements is one of the criteria that commercial carriers must make sure drivers adhere to.
If an employer fails to run a thorough background check on their drivers, they could be liable for negligent hiring.
Training is one of a trucking company’s primary responsibilities. A driver must be qualified and trained to operate a large rig before being permitted to do so. For instance, drivers should receive instruction on how to stop with enough space, handle bad weather, avoid acts like jackknifing, examine their vehicles, and other topics.
Like with negligent hiring above, if an employer does make sure their truck drivers are trained on the necessary safety precautions, the employer and the driver could be liable for any accident the driver caused.
Can Truck Drivers Keep Driving If They Have an Accident?
If you are employed as a truck driver while involved in a minor collision, you could still be eligible to work as a driver. Employers know that accidents occur, even if the truck driver has a history of safe driving.
However, you must surrender your commercial driver’s license if you commit certain infractions. In these cases, you will likely lose your job and face further legal penalties. These infractions include vehicular manslaughter, drunk driving, and abandoning the scene of an accident.
If you do not lose your CDL, the employer decides on any action taken after a collision. Some employers let a minor accident slide if the employee has always driven safely.
Can a Truck Driver Keep Driving If They Have Points on Their License?
Violations result in points being added to your CDL. While each employer handles points differently, you can only have a certain number of points on your license before it is suspended, just like with a traditional driver’s license.
You are required to notify your employer within 30 days of being convicted of a traffic violation. Your company can insist that you finish a driving course to remove points from your license.
Do You Need an Attorney for a Truck Accident?
Contacting a lawyer is one of the most crucial things you can do after a truck accident. Even if you are unsure whether the other party was to blame for the accident, consulting a lawyer is highly recommended. You will want the assistance of a lawyer since truck accidents, particularly those involving commercial vehicles, entail many distinct legal issues.
The trucking firm will undoubtedly have expert legal counsel to limit their culpability, but you should also have an experienced advocate fighting for you. Lawyers will take the required actions to investigate, safeguard crucial evidence, and manage relations with the other accident participants.
Call Attorney Joel Bieber for a Consultation Today
Call the distinguished truck accident lawyers at The Joel Bieber Firm right away to see how we can help. After your complimentary consultation, we will get right to work on our investigation to provide you with the best representation after your accident.