The federal government holds truck drivers and trucking companies to high standards of safety. This is because trucks present an increased danger due to their massive size. After a commercial vehicle accident, the truck driver, trucking company, and manufacturers face heightened scrutiny for any negligence that may have contributed to the crash.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, and the truck driver is found to be negligent or in violation of federal trucking regulations, you may be able to file a personal injury claim for damages. For example, if the at-fault driver had been driving past the time limit set by the law, they can be held responsible for failing to follow established safety guidelines. If this is the case or think you may have a case, be sure to reach out to our Phoenix truck accident attorneys at Suzuki Law Offices.
Factors That Commonly Contribute to Truck Accidents
A truck accident refers to a collision or incident involving a commercial truck or large vehicle, typically with significant consequences due to the size and weight of the truck involved. These accidents can result in severe injuries, fatalities, and substantial property damage.
Sadly, negligence plays a role in most truck accidents. This can include:
- Driver Fatigue: Truck drivers often work long hours and may not get enough rest, leading to fatigue and drowsy driving. Fatigued drivers are more prone to making errors and falling asleep at the wheel.
- Speeding: Excessive speed, especially on highways and busy roads, can reduce a driver's reaction time and make it harder to control the truck in case of unexpected events or obstacles.
- Impaired Driving: Alcohol or drug impairment can impair a driver's judgment, coordination, and reaction time, increasing the risk of accidents.
- Distracted Driving: Distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, using GPS devices, or eating while driving can divert a truck driver's attention from the road and lead to accidents.
- Inadequate Training: Insufficient training and lack of experience can result in truck drivers not fully understanding how to operate their vehicles safely.
- Poor Maintenance: Neglected or poorly maintained trucks are more likely to experience mechanical failures like brake malfunctions or tire blowouts, which can cause accidents.
- Overloaded or Improperly Loaded Cargo: When trucks carry excessive or unbalanced loads, it can affect their stability and handling, increasing the risk of rollovers or loss of control.
- Weather Conditions: Adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow, ice, or fog can make roads slippery and reduce visibility, making it more challenging for truck drivers to maintain control.
- Reckless Driving: Aggressive driving behaviors like tailgating, weaving between lanes, and road rage can lead to accidents.
- Poor Road Conditions: Potholes, uneven road surfaces, and inadequate signage can contribute to accidents involving trucks.
- Mechanical Failures: Malfunctions in a truck's brakes, steering, or other critical systems can lead to accidents if they occur while the truck is in motion.
- Blind Spots: Large trucks have substantial blind spots where the driver cannot see nearby vehicles, which can result in collisions when other drivers are in these blind spots.
- Inadequate Following Distance: Trucks require more time and space to stop than smaller vehicles. When truck drivers follow too closely, they may not have enough room to brake safely.
- Inadequate Braking Distance: Failure to maintain a safe following distance or use proper braking techniques can lead to rear-end collisions.
Determining Liability in a Truck Accident
Liability for a truck accident can be a complex matter and may involve multiple parties. Determining who is liable often depends on the specific circumstances of the accident.
Here are some key parties that can be held liable for a truck accident:
- Truck Driver: The truck driver is often the first party to be investigated for liability. If the driver was negligent by, for example, driving recklessly, speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or being distracted, they can be held liable for the accident.
- Trucking Company: The trucking company that employs the driver can also be held liable if it can be shown that they were negligent in their hiring practices, training, maintenance of the truck, or if they pressured the driver to violate regulations (such as hours of service rules) in order to meet delivery deadlines.
- Truck Owner: In cases where the truck is owned by a separate entity from the trucking company and is leased to them, the truck owner may also share liability if the accident resulted from mechanical issues or other problems related to the truck itself.
- Cargo Loaders: If the accident was caused by improperly loaded or unsecured cargo, the parties responsible for loading the cargo may be held liable. This can include shippers, loaders, and freight brokers.
- Maintenance Providers: If the accident was due to a mechanical failure that resulted from inadequate maintenance, the party responsible for maintaining the truck (which could be the trucking company or a third-party maintenance provider) may be held liable.
- Manufacturers: In cases where a defective truck part or component contributed to the accident, the manufacturer of that part may be held liable for damages.
- Government Entities: Sometimes, accidents are caused by poor road conditions or inadequate signage. In such cases, government entities responsible for maintaining and ensuring the safety of the roadways may be held liable.
- Other Drivers: In some situations, another driver may have contributed to the accident by acting negligently. In such cases, liability can be shared between the truck driver and the other driver.
To determine liability in a truck accident case, a thorough investigation is typically conducted. This investigation may involve collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, reviewing maintenance records, and analyzing accident reports. Liability may also be determined through negotiations or litigation in court.
Our Firm is Available 24/7 – Call Now for the Help You Need
If you or someone you love has been injured in a serious trucking accident, it is important to understand that you have rights. With the help of a Phoenix truck accident attorney from Suzuki Law Offices, you can seek justice for the losses you have suffered.
Schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our team to learn more about your legal options. Call Suzuki Law Offices at (602) 842-6762. We're available 24/7.
Did the Truck Driver Violate FMCSA Safety Regulations?
Driver negligence can take many forms. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provides certain rules that drivers must abide by regarding things like hours of service, drug testing, and more. If any driver fails to meet these criteria, and causes an accident as a result, they can be held liable.
For example, the FMCSA specifically states that drivers of commercial trucks are limited to no more than 11 hours of driving after having at least 10 hours off in between.
Additionally, truck drivers are forbidden from driving more than 60 hours in a seven-day period or 70 hours in an eight-day period, and are required to take at least an eight-hour rest break while on duty. Commercial drivers are also subject to periodic drug tests to ensure that drivers are not using drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel. These types of precautions are meant to safeguard truck companies against negligent behavior and keep people safe on the road.
Unfortunately, many truck drivers ignore hours of service regulations in order to meet strict delivery deadlines. If a tired truck driver causes an accident, however, both they and the trucking company can be held liable for damages.
"He answered all my questions free of charge and was very helpful."Linda
"Richard J Suzuki is an outstanding lawyer, extremely professional and responsive. The absolute best experience, my family and I were beyond content with the overall outcome."Rosa
"When I got into trouble with the law I didn’t know where to turn. Mr. O’Sullivan was immediately assigned to my case and I felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders."Justine F