When you are driving on the highway or local roads, you must take it on faith that the person behind the wheel of the truck ahead of you is well-trained and knows what they are doing. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Inexperienced and poorly trained truck drivers can make mistakes that cause serious truck accidents.
You can make the trucking company pay when you get injured by their truck driver. If the trucking company has a pattern of hiring and putting unqualified truck drivers on the road, your case may be even more significant. First, you must contact an experienced truck accident lawyer to review your case.
There Are Not Enough Truck Drivers to Go Around
The nationwide truck driver shortage is not getting any better. Experienced truck drivers are retiring or leaving the profession, and there are nowhere near enough drivers to replace them. In addition, many younger people are shying away from entering the truck driving profession, mindful that it means long stretches away from home and family. Many women will not become truck drivers due to societal perceptions about the profession and the need to spend time away from family.
At the same time, the need for truck drivers is surging. Online commerce companies like Amazon and other shipping companies cannot get enough drivers to fill their needs. The pandemic sparked a significant increase in the demand for trucking that has not receded. Supply chain issues have only increased the need for truck drivers.
Truck Drivers Often Leave the Profession for Other Fields
The American Trucking Association has estimated the total shortage of truck drivers across the United States at 78,000. However, this industry association often reports statistics that further the trucking industry’s agenda. Truck drivers themselves say that the thing that forces them out of the profession is the low pay and the fact that trucking companies refuse to compensate drivers adequately.
Either way, the end result is still the same. Drivers often leave the profession, and trucking companies cannot replace them. One way politicians have responded to the truck driver shortage is to relax the requirements for who can drive a truck. One law has allowed truck drivers as young as 18 to make cross-country trips. Someone with a driver’s license for only two years may qualify to drive a large truck that can cause severe injuries to others on the road.
Trucking Companies Have Had to Turn to Less Experienced Drivers
Retention issues have forced trucking companies to hire newer drivers to meet client demand. Believe it or not, it is relatively easy for a truck driver to qualify to drive. They must pass the test for a CDL license.
Many trucking companies will pay for classes for prospective drivers to learn what they need to know. However, the legal training requirements for truck drivers are minimal. Trucking companies may also administer drug and alcohol tests and check the individual driver’s record.
The great need for truck drivers, and the trucking company’s ability to quickly get drivers on the road, leads to many inexperienced and unqualified drivers behind the wheel of the truck. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer is the last thing someone inexperienced should be driving. Although drivers need to learn the profession somehow, many are gaining their skills on the job.
Some trucking companies have hired drivers with forged licenses. Some unscrupulous operators will do anything to get their cargo delivered, regardless of the law and their actions’ impact on you.
Truck Driving Is a Difficult Profession that Requires Qualified Drivers
Truck driving is actually one of the most difficult and grueling professions. Aside from the fact that it is difficult to control a vehicle that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, truck drivers are also working under immense time pressure. Customers waiting for delivery do not care about the driver’s experience level or that the operator needs to take their time. Rookie drivers often feel pressure to make deadlines while they are still learning.
Here are some of the other challenges associated with driving trucks:
- A truck requires precise steering to avoid a rollover accident. A brief lapse, or over or understeering, can be enough to cause the driver to lose control of the truck.
- Trucks take far longer than passenger vehicles to bring to a complete stop. It can take a fully-loaded truck up to one-tenth of a mile to stop completely when it is traveling at 55 miles per hour.
- Trucks are more difficult to drive because of the cargo, and how a truck is loaded can present additional dangers when the cargo shifts en route to the destination.
- Seeing the truck’s blind spots is challenging, especially when the driver changes lanes.
- Traffic conditions on the road may change, especially when there is congestion or roadwork.
- The truck driver needs to be aware of their truck and whether there are maintenance issues. They are responsible for visually inspecting the truck before heading onto the road.
- There are many more things that can go wrong with a truck mechanically than on a passenger car (and even a minor mechanical failure can cause a significant accident)
Many truck drivers take years before they learn how to handle these challenges. Still, they end up learning on the job, even if they had training before they obtained their CDL license. This on-the-job training can come at your expense since you have no say in which truck drivers are around you and whether they can drive a large vehicle. Companies make you pay the price for putting newer drivers out on the road while they reap enormous profits.
Unqualified Truck Drivers Are More Likely to Make Negligent Errors
In a truck accident case, the legal test is whether one of the drivers has acted unreasonably under the circumstances. A truck driver’s skill is not compared to a truck driver of their level and experience. Instead, the law compares a truck driver against a reasonable truck driver of any experience level.
If a truck driver has done something wrong, they will be legally responsible for the damages they have caused. The company that employs them will have to pay for your injuries when their driver was negligent because a truck driver is an agent of the company that put them behind the wheel.
Here are some examples of how inexperienced truck drivers can cause accidents:
- Failing to begin to brake in time
- Not properly checking their blindspots when changing lanes
- Losing control of their truck because they made a steering error
- Not knowing when they are getting tired and need to rest
- Failure to anticipate and address a mechanical problem
- Failure to know how to operate the instruments on the truck and read the relevant gauges
- Not understanding how speeding can cause accidents and reduce the amount of time to brake
Blindspots are one of the most challenging things for new truck drivers to navigate. There are numerous vantage points where the truck driver cannot see others around them on the road. They have to use mirrors and other technologies that can help them see into their blind spots. Although some newer truck drivers may quickly pick up how to see into their blindspots, others may initially struggle with it.
Common Truck Accidents Caused By Inexperienced Truck Drivers
Accordingly, inexperienced truck drivers can cause:
- Rear-end collisions when the truck driver fails to stop in time or misjudges the distance between them and the car in front of them
- Side impact crashes from improper lane changes and not correctly checking into the blindspots
- Jackknife crashes when a truck driver makes a steering error or fails to handle their truck properly
- Rollover accidents
Any Truck Driver Can Cause an Accident
The driver’s experience level does not matter when determining legal responsibility for a truck accident. So long as the truck driver did something wrong to cause the accident, the trucking company will be legally responsible for paying for the damages caused.
The same principle holds no matter how long the driver was on the job. A truck driver is an agent of the trucking company for purposes of liability for truck accidents. Their actions are the trucking company’s actions – they are two and the same.
No matter what happens, the legal test for liability in a truck accident is still the same. You must prove that the truck driver was negligent to receive financial compensation for the accident. Both novice and experienced truck drivers can be negligent.
There is a four-part test for proving negligence in a truck accident:
- The truck driver owed you a duty of care (a driver always owes a duty of care to those around them on the road)
- The truck driver breached the duty of care by doing something that was unreasonable under the circumstances (the situations described above will are examples of negligence)
- You suffered an injury.
- You may not have suffered an injury had it not been for the truck driver’s actions.
You have the burden of proof to show that the truck driver was negligent. You must gather the evidence that demonstrates what the truck driver did to cause the accident. In some cases, the accident circumstances go a long way toward speaking for themselves. For example, if the truck driver rear-ended hit you, it will be relatively clear evidence of negligence.
In other cases, the question of negligence can be clearer-cut. You will need to show what happened, and that requires one of several forms of evidence. However, truck accident evidence can quickly disappear shortly after the accident. An attorney must move quickly to gather the evidence you must have to prove your case. The same principle is true whether you were involved in an accident with a new truck driver or someone with decades of experience.
How an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help You?
When you hire a truck accident lawyer, they can obtain more information about the individual driver and their record. They can access the file that shows whether the driver was involved in any previous accidents and what the trucking company may have known when it hired the driver.
If the trucking company has a history of cutting corners and putting non-roadworthy drivers behind the wheel, you may further strengthen your case. A history of non-compliance can land the trucking company in hot water with a jury, which may assess punitive damages if you win your case.
Your attorney can obtain both information about the individual driver and the trucking company’s employment practices in general. You can obtain relevant information in the discovery process that can help your case. The more evidence you can access during discovery, the more your legal position strengthens.
The trucking company will be eager to settle the case when an inexperienced driver causes the accident. If the case goes to a jury, the resulting verdict may even mean the end of the trucking company. You should hire an experienced attorney who can maximize your potential settlement amount.
The insurance company may still be difficult and try to lowball a settlement offer, even in the face of high risks. They will not write a large check without making you work hard. You would still need to engage in lengthy settlement negotiations with the help of your truck accident attorney. Truck accident cases may result in large potential settlements, especially in light of the severity of your injuries. You should never take the chance of trying to handle your case on your own.
Consult With a Truck Accident Attorney
A truck accident can be a traumatic event, and dealing with serious injuries will disrupt your entire life. You want a truck accident lawyer to investigate the root cause of the accident and hold the appropriate parties responsible.
You should not have to pay for the losses you suffered because a truck driver did not have proper training or qualifications.
Seek professional legal help from a Florida personal injury law firm immediately, so your truck accident lawyer can begin building your claim and protecting your rights.