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Are Truck Drivers Always at Fault?

The impact of a fully-loaded semi-truck hitting a motor vehicle will likely have devastating consequences. America’s roadways get busier each year and more dangerous. Statistics show there are two million 18 wheelers operating in the U.S.

The injuries people suffer from truck accidents are serious and, too often, debilitating. If you suffer injuries due to a negligent driver, you need an attorney that will protect your rights. Fielding Law handles personal injury cases and makes sure you get the compensation you deserve. Truck accidents are complicated when assigning liability because truck drivers or other parties could be at fault.

When Are Truck Drivers at Fault in an Accident?

Many truck accidents in the U.S. are the result of driver negligence. There are specific responsibilities a driver of a commercial motor vehicle must always perform. The weight, size and speed of an 18-wheeler give it destructive potential when a driver acts carelessly. These are common causes of trucking accidents.

Driving at High Speeds

Driving at excessive speeds has serious outcomes when trucks collide with other motor vehicles. A recent highway safety report indicates that 52% of big truck accidents occur on major highways. Speed is a significant factor in crashes. Driving CMVs at safe speeds is integral to meeting federal transportation safety regulations.

Operating an Unsafe CMV

Mechanical brake failures are the top reason for trucking accidents. Truck drivers must do their due diligence to make sure the vehicle they are driving meets safety standards. After every run, a driver must complete a post-trip inspection report noting any defects or issues. The law is clear about never operating an unsafe CMV under any circumstances.

Using Substances

Substance use is a problem for truckers trying to stay awake to complete hauls or dealing with the stress of the job. A trucker must abide by alcohol and substance use regulations to hold a commercial license. Driving clean is the law, and violations that lead to accidents could result in personal injury claims.

Disregarding Fatigue

Fatigue is a problem for all drivers, but a tired trucker presents an immense hazard to motorists and passengers. This problem is so concerning federal regulations require that truckers log their hours and follow concise schedules that build in rest periods. Truckers who negate these service-hour directives are putting lives at risk.

Being Distracted

Distracted driving is a growing concern in a highly connected society. Trucks have more onboard electronic equipment to use and monitor, and mobile devices are another issue. Distracted driving in a semi-truck spells disaster. A semi can overtake a motor vehicle or cross the centerline within seconds if a driver isn’t paying attention. Drivers that get distracted and injure others can be held liable for their actions.

Are Other Parties Liable in Trucking Accidents?

Determining liability is a serious matter in truck accident claims. There are accidents where a driver is solely responsible. However, a number of parties work together to oversee trucking processes. If any party fails to uphold its part, there is potential for liability in a claim.

Trucking Companies

Trucking companies play one of the most critical roles in carrier operations. They must follow the laws of local jurisdictions, but stronger federal laws take precedence when necessary. Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations, there a detailed transportation standards and truck operator guidelines.

Violating these standards is a clear breach of duty of care toward other drivers and is a significant liability for companies. Truck accident victims can seek recovery when companies fail to enforce these standards.

Maintenance Personnel

Truck maintenance crews have an essential role in keeping CMVs in good working condition. There are regulations regarding the maintenance expectations for commercial vehicles because of the critical safety issues. If crews or mechanics neglect to make necessary repairs or knowingly allow an unsafe vehicle to operate, the company and personnel could be held liable.

Shipping Companies

Typically, trucks are loaded by third parties. If shippers don’t pack items using proper weight distribution or secure a load correctly, the shifting items inside a trailer can cause a driver to lose control of the vehicle. Shipping companies have a responsibility to load trucks for safe passage.

Truck and Parts Manufacturers

There are a lot of working parts that keep a large truck functioning properly. Trucking companies and drivers rely on manufacturers to build and service trucks with reliable parts and equipment. If faulty parts lead to an accident, a manufacturer of the truck or individual parts manufacturers could bear responsibility.

What Happens If You Are at Fault in an Accident?

There are situations where the driver is at fault in an accident. Utah law provides that a plaintiff who is partially responsible for an accident may still seek damages from another liable party. Damage awards are determined by Utah law 78B-5-818 regarding comparative negligence. Modified comparative fault allows a plaintiff to recover based on their percentage of liability in an accident. These percentages are important because they affect the amount of recovery. Utah follows the 50% rule.

A plaintiff who is more than 50% responsible for an accident cannot recover any damages. This is an example of how modified comparative fault works in other circumstances. If a plaintiff is 25% responsible for an accident and the total damage award is $60,000, the award is reduced by the percentage of fault (25%) or $15,000. The award amount will be $45,000.

It is essential to have a lawyer assist you with liability issues in a truck accident. These cases are often complicated, and you need your voice heard. Other parties’ insurance companies and lawyers will try hard to blame you and avoid responsibility. Experienced legal representation is crucial to get the recovery you deserve under the law.

Why Should You Have a Truck Accident Lawyer?

Personal injury cases involving truck accidents are highly complex cases. You need to prove that your case meets the burden of proof for damages in a personal injury claim. You may also need assistance with one or more insurance companies and, perhaps, multiple legal defense teams if several parties can be held liable in an accident. These are ways truck accident lawyers assist clients:

  • Review the facts of your case
  • Negotiate settlements with insurance companies
  • Develop the material evidence related to your claim
  • Handle witness preparation
  • Communicate with all parties to a claim
  • Determine a just damage award
  • File claims and prepares lawsuits
  • Provide you with ongoing counsel
  • Update you on settlement offers
  • Keep your case moving forward

After a truck accident, you need to concentrate on healing. The time and effort that goes into settlements and lawsuits are assumed by your lawyer, who has the skills and knowledge to manage these legal concerns.

Retain an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

Fielding Law is the team you need in your corner when a truck accident changes your life. The injuries you sustain could take months or years to heal, or you may need ongoing care. It is necessary to get compensation for your pain and suffering.

We know how to develop and see your case through with insurances companies or in court. We aggressively work to get you fair compensation, so you can work on reclaiming your life. Contact us for a free case evaluation, so you understand your options.

Sources:

https://www.truckinfo.net/research/trucking-statistics

https://www.enjuris.com/truck-accident/truck-accident-causes-injuries.html

https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-49/subtitle-B/chapter-III/subchapter-B/part-392

https://policyadvice.net/insurance/insights/truck-accident-statistics/

https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title78B/Chapter5/78B-5-S818.html

https://www.enjuris.com/personal-injury-law/shared-fault-rules.html

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/passenger-safety/inspection-repair-and-maintenance-motor-carriers-passengers-part-396