Truck accidents are scary and complex, mainly because they’re more likely to result in serious injuries or even death. While an average passenger car may weigh about 4,000 pounds, a big rig tractor-trailer or semi-truck can weigh approximately 35,000 pounds.
In addition, drivers in large commercial trucks ride high up, while other drivers are much lower to the ground. These and other factors can make trucking accidents traumatic.
Here are five factors that can help to determine liability in a truck accident.
1. Police reports
In case you get into a truck accident and suffer serious injuries or property damage, ensure that you call the police. The police officers will get statements from everyone involved. Police reports give clear vision and evidence that can help determine who is at fault and what exactly occurred.
The police report also includes all the details of the people involved in the crash, the date, and the time of the accident. Sometimes, the police report will include outside causes that may have led to the accident. In addition, police reports can show information that may prove negligence. Therefore, calling the police immediately after the truck accident is a good way to protect your rights.
2. Witness statements
Along with police reports, you can use witness statements to determine who caused the accident. When road accidents happen, most of the time there are people lurking around the streets or other motorists on the road who can verify that the other party was at fault. The statement of an eyewitness can help solidify your case. However, ensure that the witness is unbiased and isn’t in any way related to the incident.
3. Statements from all parties
After a truck accident, some statements can help to determine who is liable for the crash. You, the truck driver, and witnesses can provide statements about what may have happened. However, other statements may come from the insurance company, trucking company, and other organizations that are responsible for investigating the incident.
Therefore, you should be very careful about what you say after the crash, especially to insurance adjusters and the other driver. Words like “sorry” can be used against you as an admission of fault. This is why you should work with an experienced truck accident attorney like those at Gibbs & Fuerst LLP.
4. Evidence of driver negligence
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, there are different ways you can show that the negligence of a truck driver caused the accident. Some of the signs of negligence in a trucking accident include:
Sometimes, truck drivers aren’t able to make deliveries within the allotted time, but they may try anyway. When faced with tight deadlines from employers, truck drivers may drive faster than the appropriate speed for such a big vehicle, or when the road conditions aren’t suitable. Because trucks are big and heavy, when truck drivers speed, they have less space and time to maneuver in case of an emergency, which makes it harder to avoid an accident.
Driving while fatigued
Driving a truck is a high-stress job. In most cases, truck drivers will be required to deliver cargo within a short period of time. This means that they have to drive long distances and take few breaks. Although there are laws and regulations, many trucking companies disregard these rules, and drivers are forced to drive while fatigued.
A tired truck driver won’t identify and responds to road hazards as quickly as they should. In addition, a drowsy truck driver can drift dangerously across the centerline and crash with other vehicles.
Driving while impaired
You may not have thought that truck drivers use drugs and alcohol while on the job, but some do. Results from a recent study show that 30% of truck drivers abuse amphetamines while on the job to keep them awake. While these drugs can help keep them awake, they also compel them to take more risks like speeding, overtaking, maneuvering dangerously in bad weather, and making unsafe lane changes. Therefore, they’re more likely to cause a crash.
5. Evidence of negligence by the trucking company
Sometimes, truck drivers aren’t the only liable party in an accident. Trucking companies may also be at fault. Some examples of trucking company negligence include:
Inadequate driver supervision
Trucking companies are required by law to ensure that their drivers don’t place other motorists at risk. They can do this by looking at drivers’ logs to ensure drivers adhere to the speed limits and take the mandatory breaks. When they fail to do this, they’re equally at fault for negligent supervision if an accident occurs.
Hiring unqualified drivers
There are many cases where truck drivers are inexperienced, unqualified, or don’t have the proper license. Driving and maintaining control of a big truck is difficult compared to other vehicles. It requires special training and years of experience. However, some trucking companies hire unqualified truck drivers for low wages, so they can minimize expenses and maximize their profits. If a truck driver is found unqualified to drive a heavy truck, then the trucking company may be held liable for negligent hiring when an accident happens.
Faulty, delayed, or missed truck inspections and maintenance
Regulations in the trucking industry require big commercial trucks to undergo periodic inspections and maintenance. When these inspections and maintenance are done poorly, delayed, or missed, damage to the steering, brakes, tires, and engine can lead to a serious accident. When this happens, the trucking company can be found liable for the accident.
Many commercial truck drivers adhere to road safety regulations. However, there are some who will knowingly and willfully ignore regulations and operate negligently. A small passenger car is no match for a massive 18-wheeler truck, and when an accident occurs, it can be a traumatic experience. If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, use the above tips to build a strong case and prove that the truck driver or trucking company is liable for the accident and injuries.