You need to prove that the truck driver was responsible for your injuries to obtain financial compensation after you have suffered an injury in a truck accident. There are some instances in which the truck driver makes a simple mistake that can cause a severe accident. Other times, something even more careless or reckless is at work. Here are some of the common causes of truck accidents.
When you hire an experienced truck accident lawyer, they can work to learn what happened in your accident and put you in a position to receive a check for your injuries. Truck accident claims follow a complicated process that a knowledgeable professional should handle.
The leading cause of truck accidents is speeding. Trucks are difficult enough to control even when traveling at the speed limit. Truck drivers are under pressure to reach their destination on time. Customers will complain bitterly and may pull their business from the trucking company if the driver is not on time. It is often up to the driver to figure out how to make it on time, regardless of the actual road conditions.
However, truck drivers also have a limited amount of time in which they may drive the vehicle. The federal government has strict hours of service limitations that require the driver to take rests and curtails the amount they may drive at once. Thus, the driver has limited time to cover a considerable distance on the road. Some drivers may speed to cover more ground.
In general, speeding is a factor in roughly one of every three motor vehicle crashes. Truck crashes are dangerous enough, no matter what speed the driver is traveling at, given the disparity in size between the truck and the passenger vehicle. A truck driver cannot control their vehicle as well when they are speeding. They may be unable to stop in time to avoid a rear-end crash, or the driver may lose control of their vehicle and cause a rollover accident.
Motorists are also at risk from the distracted driving of truck drivers. Truck drivers may try to multitask because they need to maximize their time behind the wheel, so they do something that takes their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel.
Because they are under a time constraint, they may not pull over when they need to look at or use their phone. They may also do something like eating behind the wheel because they feel that they need to multitask.
Seconds matter when driving a truck. If the truck driver reaches their prompt, they can stop in time. Road conditions can change quickly, and truck drivers need to adjust.
The apparent risks of distracted driving are that truck drivers will rear-end the car in front of them or veer out of their lane. However, studies also show that distracted drivers are far more likely to travel more than ten miles per hour over the speed limit. Distracted driving can be even more dangerous when a truck driver passes through work zones on the highway.
Distracted driving can cause the following types of truck crashes:
- Blindspot accidents occur when truck drivers do not check when they are changing lanes.
- Rear-end accidents because the truck driver does not see something on the road ahead of them
- Rollover accidents occur because the truck driver does not see a curve or change in the road in time to adjust their steering correctly.
These are all serious accidents that can cause extensive physical injuries.
Truck drivers are under tremendous pressure to reach their destination on time. The trucking company answers to customers for delayed deliveries. In turn, the truck driver answers to the trucking company when they lose time on the road and are late.
One of the temptations drivers may face is working a long shift to make up time on the road. They also drive late at night because there is less traffic, and they can travel further in their available time.
The problem is that fatigued driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving. One obvious problem is when the truck driver does not get enough sleep. A driver who has not slept for 20 or more hours is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 (the legal limit).
Drivers can be tired for several reasons. They may not have a healthy lifestyle (it is difficult to eat right and exercise on the road) or be on certain medications that make them tired. Regardless of the reason, fatigued truck driving is hazardous for others on the road in the vicinity of trucks. Drivers rely on reflexes to control the truck and stop in time. Even a split-second delay in responding to potential danger can increase the risk of a severe accident.
Drivers can only operate their vehicles during limited timeframes. The federal government recognizes the dangers of fatigued driving and has imposed hours of service restrictions since 1937. However, truck drivers may get tempted (or pressured) to break these rules to reach their destination on time. An experienced attorney can obtain hours of service logs from the truck’s electronic data recorder in the discovery process of a truck accident lawsuit.
Poorly Maintained Trucks
Federal regulations require the trucking company to put a roadworthy vehicle on the road. Trucking companies must comply with extensive maintenance regulations for every vehicle. The truck driver must also visually inspect the truck at the start of their shift and note the inspection results.
The problem is that inspections and maintenance cost the trucking company money. Truck parts can be costly, and pulling a truck off the road for repairs will take it out of service. The trucking company can ill afford to have too many vehicles out of commission because it can back up deliveries.
As a result, trucking companies may try to cut corners on their maintenance. The federal government may make random inspections and force trucks off the road if they find problems. However, the federal government cannot prevent every possible instance of operating a truck when it is unsafe.
The heavy weight of the truck requires precision. Even the failure of one tire can cause a blowout and a dangerous accident. The same thing is true for the brakes. Trucks can take more than one-tenth of a mile to bring to a complete stop, and functioning brakes are vital.
Maintenance shortcuts can cause accidents, even when the most experienced driver is behind the wheel. Your truck accident lawyer can obtain the truck’s maintenance records in the discovery process to show what the trucking company did or did not do.
Driving in Poor Weather Conditions
Truck drivers must exercise caution in poor weather conditions. Although trucks should not necessarily stay off the road when it rains, severe weather makes it much more challenging to operate. However, the pressures on truck drivers remain the same. When there is poor weather, retail store managers may be even keener to receive a delivery to restock their shelves. As a result, truck drivers may face more pressure to drive when the weather can be better.
Poor weather can affect both visibility and the truck driver’s ability to bring the truck to a stop. The truck driver will also struggle to control the truck in slippery conditions. In addition, extreme hot or cold weather can also affect how the truck performs. Extreme weather can increase the risk of a maintenance failure or a tire blowout.
Improper Cargo Loading
How crews or drivers load cargo onto trucks can determine whether the truck reaches its destination safely. There are extensive federal rules that they must follow when loading cargo. Loaders must properly secure the cargo to keep it from moving in the truck or falling onto the roadway.
Improperly loaded cargo can cause the truck driver to lose control of the vehicle or cause the truck to roll over. This concern is particularly present when the truck is not fully loaded. In addition, tanker trucks are also more likely to roll over because the liquid may move in the hold. Both the trucking company and the business that loaded the cargo can be legally responsible for an accident caused by improper cargo loading.
One of the significant causes of truck accidents is inexperience. While all truck drivers can make a mistake behind the wheel, newer truck drivers are much more prone to errors. A good truck driver combines skill with experience to reach their destination safely. The problem is that fewer truck drivers have the necessary experience to stay safe.
There is an ongoing crisis in the trucking industry. Trucking companies cannot hire enough truck drivers to meet their needs. The demand for truck driving services far outstrips the supply of drivers. Trucking companies are locked in a constraint struggle to hire enough drivers and keep them on staff.
When faced with a driver shortage, trucking companies have one of two options available:
- Pay higher wages to entice experienced truck drivers
- Continue to offer the same wages and hire less experienced drivers
The trucking industry focuses on its bottom line, so trucking companies will often opt for the latter alternative. In addition, federal law changed in response to the supply chain crisis to allow trucking companies to hire younger drivers. The result is that truck drivers as young as 18 years old may be allowed to make cross-country trips. Trucking companies jump at the chance to save money because you and your family are the ones who bear the risk.
The National Center for Surface Transportation Safety Excellence showed the effects of inexperience on truck accident rates. Drivers with the least experience had the highest risks of being involved in a truck accident. The study did not recommend that truck drivers avoid hiring less experienced drivers. However, it did conclude that inexperienced drivers needed more extensive training to remain safe.
Trucking companies often do not invest in this level of training, instead opting to put them directly onto the road. Federal regulations do not require more than a minimal level of training classes, certainly short of the level that will increase driver safety.
You Must Learn the Cause of the Crash and Prove Negligence
Your truck accident attorney will complete the crash investigation to learn the actual cause. You may be entitled to financial compensation when you can prove the truck driver acted unreasonably. For instance, if the truck driver rear-ended your car, you will not need to prove that the truck driver was fatigued.
The act of rear-ending your car alone can constitute negligence. If the driver was abiding by their duty, they should have been able to stop in time to avoid a collision.
Still, it is in your interest to get down to the root cause of the accident. If you can obtain evidence showing conscious wrongdoing or extreme carelessness, you can obtain punitive damages.
Although these damages are rare, juries are more likely to grant them when a truck driver or trucking company intentionally disregards the rules. If you can establish a pattern of noncompliance, you may have an even greater chance of being awarded punitive damages.
Besides getting the medical help you need, your first step after a truck accident is to contact an experienced truck accident attorney. Your lawyer will immediately launch their own investigation of the truck accident and move to obtain other evidence that can show what happened. They will then file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf and fight for you to obtain the highest possible compensation for your truck accident injuries.
Speak With a Truck Accident Lawyer
The sooner you hire a Florida personal injury law firm‘s attorney for a truck accident, the sooner they can demand that trucking companies and involved drivers preserve evidence of the cause of the crash.
You will never miss any deadlines to file a case by enlisting legal help right after the crash. Always stabilize your health and then consult a lawyer at no cost.