A traffic accident involving big rigs and commercial trucks can be more catastrophic compared to a crash involving two personal-use cars. A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh about 25 times as much as your car. This stark weight disparity combined with the basic laws of physics makes truck accidents with other vehicles result in severe and even fatal injuries. These accidents are also associated with significant property damage. The risk is greater if the truck is carrying dangerous materials or hazardous chemicals.
Who is at fault for the accident?
The truck driver
In most cases, the first responsible party could be the truck driver. Some commercial drivers are prone to making the same mistakes made by car drivers. The only difference is that their mistakes often result in more damages. If the truck driver was driving under the influence of alcohol, performed an unsafe lane change, failed to adhere to traffic signs, or engaged in distracted driving, he or she can be partially or fully liable for the traffic accident.
The driver’s employer (trucking company) can be held responsible for a trucking accident if they failed to exercise proper precautions when recruiting their drivers or forced the employees to work in unsafe conditions. Despite the strict federal and state laws, some trucking companies still pressure their drivers to take fewer breaks, drive during unsafe hours, and continue to drive even in dangerous weather conditions.
Also, most companies that have a higher level of employee turnover often fail to do proper background checks when hiring drivers. This can result in drivers with poor driving records ending up being in charge of a tractor-trailer.
The FMCSA rolled out strict truck maintenance and inspection guidelines for trucking companies. If the company doesn’t perform these inspections and fails to adhere to the maintenance requirements, they might be held responsible if an accident happened due to improper vehicle maintenance.
The cargo companies
Most cargo companies depend on trucking companies and truck drivers to get their products from one location to another. During this process, the cargo corporations made intentionally or unintentionally violate safety standards. For example, they might improperly load cargo or overload at work to minimize the cost of transportation. If these violations cause a traffic accident, the cargo company can be held responsible.
Manufacturer of the truck or its parts
Defective vehicle parts are also a common cause of commercial truck accidents. Mechanical issues due to design flaws and poorly designed track parts could result in a vehicle manufacturer being liable for damages associated with a crash involving that vehicle.
This is a complicated process because the plaintiff must prove that mechanical flaws were the primary cause of the accident. That means he or she should pull maintenance logs, proof of product recalls, and sufficient documentation to show that a piece of faulty equipment or part was responsible for the accident.
Seek legal help
Legal liability in an accident involving a commercial truck isn’t always clear. This is why you need an experienced truck accident lawyer. Fetterman and Associates understand trucking accidents and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.