Commercial Truck Accidents

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Commercial Truck Accidents: Catastrophic Damage and Injury When Compared to Private Cars

Most road accidents cause bodily injury or damage to property but road accidents involving large commercial trucks usually result in catastrophic deaths or injury. Commercial trucks are bigger than other vehicles, weighing at least 40 tons. They are longer, typically, 53 feet in length. They take up more road space and they need more time to turn or tocome to a complete stop. By its sheer size alone, an impact caused by acommercial truck would result in more damage than ordinary cars. 

Semis and trailer trucks cause more damage than ordinary cars also because they transport cargo that may be fuel products, toxic chemicals, or volatile substances. In a collision involving commercial trucks, the cargo may ignite, inflame, or explode causing more serious and extensive damage.

Common Types of Commercial Truck Accidents

Road accidents involving commercial trucks disrupt the flow of traffic because they may jackknife, roll over, skid, and breach road barriers. They cause damage to road infrastructures and destroy signs, stop lights, and other safety barriers on the road. Because of the potential road catastrophes that commercial trucks may cause, the law requires them to carry a higher amount of liability insurance than ordinary cars.

The biggest truck companies operate out of the states of Texas and California. Commercial truck fatalities in Texas comprise about 15% of the total commercial truck fatalities nationwide. The most common truck accidents occur resulting from trucks turning or changing lanes, braking, tires blowing out, skidding because of slippery road conditions and road debris.

Heavy Regulation of Commercial Trucks and Truck Drivers

The operation of trucks is heavily regulated by individual states and by the federal government. The laws regulate the hiring, training, and licensing of truck drivers. A business owner who hires a truck driver must conduct a thorough background check to determine the driving record of a potential driver, checking for traffic and driving violations. Commercial truck drivers undergo rigorous training and testing before they are eligible to hold a commercial driver’s license. Licensed truck drivers are re-trained and re-tested every three years. 

Laws regulate drivers’ hours of work to prevent drivers falling asleep behind the wheel.Truck drivers cannot drive for more than 10 hours straight. They need to keep a log of the times they sleep and rest as well as of the times they are driving on the road. Laws regulate the truck drivers’ physical health and capacity to operate a truck by requiring periodic drug and alcohol tests.

Laws regulate the safety inspection and maintenance of trucks.  Drivers and operators of trucks are required to keep logs of the calibration of their brakes, the depth of the tire treads, the replacement of lights and reflectors; and the inspection of their windshields. Laws regulate the type of cargo they transport and they require loads to be secured. Trucks can be stopped for inspection by police officers to ensure that they comply with regulations.

Unlike private cars, commercial trucks are tracked using GPS for shippers to determine the approximate time of delivery of the cargo and so that the cargo is protected from hijacking. Commercial trucks have black boxes just like commercial airplanes.  In the event of collisions, these black boxes are retrieved to find evidence of the possible causes of the accident.

Commercial Truck Accidents are Attributed to Negligence

The strict regulation of commercial trucks and commercial truck drivers results in the law imposing a more extensive and higher duty of care. Thus, when a person dies or is injured due to a road accident with a commercial truck, the most common basis for filing a lawsuit is negligence of the truck driver or negligence of the trucking company.

An injured person may be paid damages for the injury and damage he sustained if it can be proven that the truck driver did not have the proper qualifications, training or experience; the driver was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol; the driver was fatigued or distracted; the truck was driven at excessive speeds, the cargo was not loaded properly, the cargo exceeded the weight limits; or that the truck driver or the trucking company failed to routinely maintain their trucks.

Most courts of law agree that failure of the truck driver or the trucking company to comply with regulations are proof of “negligence” which will result in a finding of liability. A finding of negligence results from the evidence of violations and breaches in compliance with state and federal regulations as well as with traffic rules and road regulations.

To succeed in litigation for damages due to personal injury, there must be evidence of violations of regulations. A competent and experienced personal injury attorney can help you find evidence of negligence you need to make your case.