Crashes involving massive tractor-trailers are often catastrophic. Due to their size and weight, these vehicles can do enormous amounts of damage, and victims often suffer severe or fatal injuries.
Therefore, determining who is responsible after these accidents will be crucial in order to hold the appropriate party accountable. This can be a challenge because every accident is different, but we can start by looking at the most common causes of truck crashes.
When truckers may be liable
Unsafe truckers who should not be behind the wheel can easily cause accidents. As such, the driver of a truck may be responsible if a crash involves:
- An unlicensed trucker
- An untrained trucker
- A distracted trucker
- A trucker driving in excess of the Hours of Service regulations
- A drunk or drugged trucker
When trucking companies may be liable
Sometimes, the fault for an accident lies with the trucking company. This can be the case for accidents involving:
- Poorly maintained vehicles
- Unqualified truckers the company failed to vet properly
- Noncompliance with federal or state trucking regulations
When motorists may be liable
Regular motorists can be at least partly to blame for truck accidents. Because trucks require more time and space to operate safely, the following actions can trigger a serious accident:
- Cutting off a trucker
- Driving in a trucker's blind spots
- Improper merging
- Following a truck too closely
- Failing to give trucks sufficient time for passing, accelerating and turning
Of course, there are exceptions and elements of every accident that affect liability, so the above lists are only intended to give readers a general idea of who may be to blame for common causes of truck accident.
To determine liability after a specific truck or commercial vehicle accident, a thorough investigation will be necessary. Understanding state liability laws and compliance with traffic laws will also be critical. As such, victims of these accidents and their families often work with a legal representative to help them determine liability and, if appropriate, pursue a legal claim against that party.