Most American motorists are aware of the dangers of sharing the highways and roads with large commercial trucks such as 18-wheelers. Each year, over 5,000 people are killed and nearly 150,000 are injured in accidents involving large commercial trucks. If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, it is important to determine who is responsible and what caused the accident to know whether or not you have a claim against the trucking company and the truck driver.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
According to a study conducted by the Department of Transportation (DOT) entitled "The Large Truck Crash Causation Study," the most common causes of truck accidents are as follows:
- Loss of control of the truck due to unforeseen event such as a tire blowout
- Disabling or non-disabling vehicle failure (eg. engine problem)
- Poor road conditions due to lack of road maintenance or weather
- Traveling too fast for road conditions
- Shifting cargo
- Lane drifting
- Improper maneuvering (eg. turning or passing through intersections)
- Objects on the highway
- Driver error
While there are often multiple contributing factors, the DOT study found that driver error was by far the most frequent cause of a truck accident. In fact, driver error is 10 times more likely to be the cause of a truck accident than other factors such as weather, road conditions, or mechanical failure. The study found that driver error was a primary factor in causing 88% of truck accidents.
Examples of Truck Driver Error
There are many mistakes a truck driver can make that could lead to an accident. Most of those mistakes occur while driving, but some occur prior to taking the road.
Below are some examples of truck driver error:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Following a vehicle too closely
- Driving while distracted
- Improperly securing loads
- Loading trucks beyond capacity
- Not properly maintaining the truck
- Dangerous or aggressive driving practices
- Making sudden or sharp turns at high speeds
- Driving while fatigued
- Failing to check blind spots
Who Is Responsible for Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Error?
When it comes to truck accidents, there are a number of different entities who could be held liable:
- Truck driver
- Truck owner
- Company that leased the truck from the owner
- Manufacturer of the truck, tires, or any other part that may have contributed to the accident
- Shipper or loader of the truck
Often, more than one party will share in responsibility for the accident. When filing a lawsuit, it is important to identify all parties responsible as defendants. If multiple parties are responsible for the accident, a jury could require them to share in the cost of compensating the victim.
Due to the number of potential causes of a truck accident and the number of parties that may be liable, it can be complicated to pinpoint who is responsible. Hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer who has the industry knowledge and know-how can be critical to maximizing the value of your case. If you have suffered injuries in a truck accident, our truck accident lawyers can help you identify who is at fault and recover the full extent of your damages. Contact our firm for a free consultation.