According to the American Trucking Association, nearly 70% of all freight tonnage moved throughout the United States every year is moved by trucks. That means a LOT of trucks are on the road at any given time.
We all know what these vehicles are. They are highly recognizable and they go by many names—truck, tractor-trailer, big rig, 18-wheeler. There are many different styles and variations of them, of course, but when we think about trucks we generally imagine big vehicles used to haul items from place to place. Above all else, though, these trucks are characterized by one key feature—their size.
The size and weight of of trucks may be necessary for moving maximum quantities of goods over long distances, but it also means that when these vehicles crash, they cause maximum damage. And since most are operating as part of a commercial enterprise, it also means there may be some unique issues involved in trying to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the trucker or the company.
There are numerous ways in which an accident involving a truck could occur, and which could potentially provide you with grounds to pursue a lawsuit if you are injured in a truck-related accident. Below we have outlined seven of the most common truck accident causes:
While companies set limits on the number of hours truckers can continuously drive, they still often engage in long hauls for hours at a time at all hours of the day. When operating a large truck, one must be extremely focused in order to ensure safety at all times. By the very nature of the job, truckers can easily become fatigued at the wheel, and it only takes a moment of dozing off or inattention to cause a serious wreck.
Though truckers are expected to obey all traffic laws just like anyone else, they are also expected to fulfill strict delivery deadlines. If a trucker falls behind, he or she may speed in order to try to make up time and ensure they make an expected delivery on schedule. Speeding is always dangerous, but speeding in a large heavy truck can easily result in the driver losing control and causing a wreck.
It takes a significant amount of skill to operate a large commercial truck, which is why drivers are required to obtain a special Commercial Driver’s License in order to do so. However, even when a driver has earned a CDL he or she may not have the experience to safely operate the vehicle in all conditions. If a company allows an inexperienced driver to operate a large truck when they shouldn’t have, and an accident occurs, they could potentially be held liable.
Just as it is the obligation of the owner of a personal vehicle to keep the car safely maintained and in good working order, so too is it the obligation of a truck’s owner to safely maintain the vehicle. Trucks, however, have much more equipment to maintain, and when a truck’s equipment fails or is defective, it can have devastating consequences.
Improperly Secured Cargo
Trucks are usually hauling large amounts of cargo in their trailers. If for some reason the cargo is improperly secured, it can shift in a manner which could cause the vehicle to lose control. Cargo issues can result in major truck-related accidents.
Though estimates vary, it is generally accepted that there is a high prevalence of substance abuse amongst those who operate large commercial vehicles. Due to the rigors of the job, many truck drivers may illegally utilize substances such as amphetamines in order to stimulate themselves and manage the fatigue of engaging in long-haul driving. These same substances, however, can result in erratic and dangerous behavior or other issues which can cause an accident.
There is no excuse for engaging in distracted driving (like texting), whether you are operating a small personal vehicle or a massive big rig. Nonetheless, when a truck driver engages in distracted driving, the consequences can be even more severe due to the size of the vehicle. Additionally, the size and weight means it is even easier to lose control of the vehicle, so distracted driving becomes even more risky for truck drivers.
If you have been the victim of an accident involving a truck in which you or a loved one were injured, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Please do not hesitate to contact Inkelaar Law today to learn how we can help.