Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Commercial trucks such as 18-wheelers, semi trucks, tractor trailers and other large freight carriers tower over the small passenger vehicles they must share the road with. Especially on major highways and at higher speeds, seemingly insignificant driving errors that may occur without consequence where small vehicles are concerned can result in catastrophe when a large truck is involved. If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, determining the cause of the accident may be difficult. An experienced lawyer can gather evidence and work with experts to understand the cause of your accident and file claims against the responsible parties.
Investigating the Accident
It is critical to begin investigating the accident as soon as possible so that the cause of the accident can be determined and evidence is preserved. There are a variety of types of information that are relevant to your claims, including:
- Information about previous violations of regulations by the trucking company or driver involved
- The truck’s maintenance records
- The speed the truck and your vehicle were traveling
- The location of the impact on the vehicles’ exteriors
- The truck driver’s log book
- Statements from eye witnesses and first responders to the accident scene, such as emergency personnel and police officers
- Information from the truck’s “black box,” which records data before, during and after a collision
- The trucking company’s policies and procedures regarding maintenance and safety, and it’s accident history
An expert can be a tremendous resource to use in determining the cause of the accident. An expert can testify about the possible negligence of a trucking company based on his or her familiarity with trucking regulations. An expert can be any person who has significant experience in the trucking field, such as a trucking company’s safety director, the former owner of a trucking company, a former investigator for the department of transportation in your state or an accident specialist.
A truck is a complex machine, or, more accurately, a complex group of machines. There are many different systems operating at the same time. It does not matter how safe the truck driver is if the equipment does not work properly. If one of the parts of a truck breaks down or does not function properly, the result can be catastrophic.
If you have been injured by defective truck equipment or by a component or system on a truck that did not function properly, you may be able to recover for your injuries. Possible parties who may be liable for defective equipment include the manufacturer, the installer or mechanic who made repairs and the seller.
Errors by Truck Drivers
Most truck drivers are safe drivers who understand the risks they face on the highway. Unfortunately, there are truck drivers on the road who are not operating safely. Truck accidents are commonly caused by driver fatigue, failure to follow safety guidelines, failure to properly load the truck or secure cargo, overloading and using alcohol or drugs while driving.
Some drivers are improperly trained for the operation of a big rig. These drivers do not realize that operating a commercial truck is not something you can just learn while doing; specialized training is required. Drivers may also receive inadequate training in the areas of safety concerns and defensive driving.
Other drivers may be well trained, but the economics of the trucking industry do not always encourage safe operation. In order to make a living driving a truck, it may be necessary to drive for too many hours without enough rest. This is a hazard not only to the driver who may be breaking safety rules and regulations, but also to all other drivers and passengers on the road. Unrealistic schedules and expectations may encourage drivers to rush.
A number of factors can cause truck accidents – from bad or slippery road conditions, to driver fatigue, equipment failure or a combination of factors. It is important to begin investigating the cause of the accident as soon as possible so that evidence can be preserved. It may be necessary to work with experts in building your case. If you have been injured in a truck accident, an experienced attorney can help you gather evidence and investigate the accident to help you determine its cause.