The trucking industry is large and powerful. Estimates are that there are more than 15 million trucks on U.S. roads operated by more than 500,000 trucking companies. These trucks cover more than 500 billion miles per year and generate in excess of $250 billion in annual revenue for their owners and operators.
Some profit-driven trucking companies place unfair demands on their drivers, failing to recognize the physical and mental toll on the truck driver in performing his/her job safely. Most truck drivers are only paid for moving a product from one location to another. This financial incentive for truckers combined with pressure from their employers encourage some truckers to engage in negligent and dangerous behaviors on the road that result in injuries, and often fatal accidents. Such behavior includes driving while fatigued, driving at excessive speed, using dangerous drugs to stay awake at night while driving and failing to adjust their speed for adverse weather conditions.
With the price of fuel rising rapidly and increasing competition within the industry, many trucking companies resort to cutting corners to maintain their profitability. They may delay necessary vehicle inspections, refuse to replace worn or defective parts and pressure their drivers to drive more than the safe number of hours per day. All of these practices have an enormous economic and non-economic toll on society, causing thousands of deaths and millions of dollars in damages each year.
CAUSES OF TRUCKING ACCIDENTS.
Commercial Driver Negligence
Trucking accidents are often caused by the negligence of the truck driver. Types of driver negligence include:
- Driver fatigue
- Unsafe driving for adverse weather conditions
- Distracted driving such as talking on the cell phone or eating while driving
- Truck driver aggression
- Influence of drugs or alcohol
- Excessive speed
- Failure to follow state and federal regulations
- General driver negligence while on the road
- Trucking Company Negligence
Accidents involving a commercial truck can be the fault of the trucking company as well. Examples include:
- Poorly maintained vehicles
- Lack of adequate inspections
- Unreasonable deadlines to move product that force the driver to take unsafe risks
- Improperly loaded/overweight trucks
- Failure to follow state and federal regulations
- Third Party Negligence
Sometimes trucking accidents are caused by a third party whose negligence might not initially be apparent. Examples include:
- Defective brakes
- Defective tires
- Defective computer systems
- Poor third party maintenance
- Negligence of other drivers
Preserving the Evidence
It will be necessary to thoroughly inspect the crash site, review the police report, the damaged vehicles and the truck driver's log. Unfortunately, unless the trucking company is contacted soon after the crash to preserve logs and records, much of it may be lost, destroyed or misplaced. For example, truck driver's logs, vehicle maintenance records and cell phone records can be valuable evidence when it comes to determining fault and liability for semi truck and other truck accident cases.
That is why it is crucial for injured victims and their families to move quickly when it comes to protecting their rights. Trucking companies usually have insurance companies and defense attorneys at the scene working tirelessly to collect evidence and to look out for their best interests. Injured victims and their families, too, need a committed advocate on their side who will fight for their rights and protect their best interests.
Determining Liability for a Truck Accident
One of the reasons why truck accident claims are more complicated than other claims is because of the many potential liable parties. The truck driver can be held accountable for his or her negligence. The trucking company is a potentially liable party in cases where negligent hiring or poor vehicle maintenance was involved. The truck's owner can also be held responsible for failing to properly maintain the vehicle. Even the truck's manufacturer can be held accountable if a defective truck part contributed to the crash.
Trucking Companies Will Fight to Avoid Legal Responsibility
Trucking lawsuits can also be time-consuming and challenging. Many trucking companies and their insurers are well-funded and will fight tooth and nail to avoid liability for their negligence. Because they face enormous potential damages, companies involved in 18-wheeler accidents and their insurance companies will do almost anything to avoid being held legally responsible. Often times, they will contact victims of 18-wheeler accidents seeking recorded statements about what happened, taking advantage of their naivety and emotional trauma to trick them into making damaging statements. Other times, these corporations will quickly offer victims a low-ball settlement, hoping to resolve the claim before the victims learn of their valuable legal rights by speaking with an attorney. Trucking companies will even falsify or destroy evidence to cover up their wrongdoing. To even the playing field, victims need experienced, aggressive attorneys who will protect them in their time of need and force the trucking companies and their insurers to take responsibility for their actions.
If you or a loved one has been injured or if you have lost someone in an accident involving a commercial truck, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering.
Contact us today for a consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.