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Negligence that Can Lead to a Truck Accident

Large commercial trucks are among the most dangerous vehicles on the road. An 18-wheeler that is fully loaded typically weighs upwards of 80,000 pounds or more, making it far more difficult for the driver to make narrow turns and slow down to deal with adverse conditions.  And when a semi-truck is involved in an accident, the results can be disastrous, especially if there is another vehicle involved. 

Thousands of people are killed in commercial truck accidents each year. And according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), passenger vehicle occupants account for 68% of all fatalities in these types of crashes, while big rig truck occupants account for just 17%. The remaining 15% are motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. 

Truck accident cases are far more complex than a typical car accident case. There are numerous laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry, and there are multiple parties that could share responsibility for the accident. For this reason, it is absolutely essential for anyone who is injured in a commercial truck accident to work with an attorney who has in-depth experience with these types of cases, and a proven track record being able to successfully recover full damages.

What Kind of Negligence can Lead to a Truck Accident?

Trucking accidents are complicated events, and there are numerous potential contributing factors. Some factors are beyond human control, such as bad weather, snow, ice, etc., but most are due to some type of negligence. And as we mentioned earlier, there may also be multiple parties that were negligent in some way.

Parties that often contribute to a trucking accident include:

The Driver and/or Other Motorists

In nearly all cases, at least one of the motorists involved in the accident is liable, and this is very often the driver of the commercial vehicle. Some examples of negligence on the part of drivers that can lead to a truck accident include:

  • Drowsy or Fatigued Driving: This frequently happens in the trucking industry because of staying out on the road for too long in violation of federal Hours of Service regulations.
  • Distracted Driving: Texting while driving and other types of smartphone use that take the attention of drivers completely off of the road.
  • Impaired Driving: Driving while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or some types of prescription drugs.
  • Traffic Violations: Speeding, dangerous passing maneuvers, running stop lights and stop signs, failing to yield the right-of-way, and other illegal and unsafe driving practices.

The Trucking Company

The company that employs the driver can be held liable for truck crashes because of various types of negligence that turn out to be contributing factors. These may include hiring drivers who lacked the proper experience, hiring driving who are unfit for the road (e.g., a driver with untreated sleep apnea), failure to properly train and supervise drivers, and pressuring or incentivizing drivers to violate trucking regulations. 

The Freight Shipping Company that Loaded the Truck

Some truck accidents are caused by a tractor-trailer that is overloaded (beyond legally allowed weight limits) or loaded improperly. This often happens when cargo shippers are in a hurry to get the truck loaded up and on the road. When a truck is overloaded or loaded unevenly and this contributes to an accident, the cargo or freight shipping company that was responsible for loading the truck could be held responsible.

The Truck Maintenance Company

Big rig trucks typically log thousands of miles over-the-road each month, which is far more frequent use than with a typical vehicle. This makes it absolutely critical that the truck is properly maintained and able to handle the high amount of wear and tear it is subjected to. If the party responsible for maintaining the truck failed to make a necessary repair (and this failure resulted in an accident), they may be held liable.

The Parties Responsible for a Vehicle Defect

Some commercial trucking accidents are caused by faulty vehicles or vehicle parts that malfunction in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some common examples include brand new tires that blow out while driving full speed down the highway, and defective brake lines that are unable to stop in time when the driver needs to slow down to avoid a collision. When this happens, those who are injured may be able to bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the defective vehicle or vehicle part.

Injured in a Commercial Trucking Accident? Contact the Experienced Attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter

If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, you need a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of these cases and has the proven ability to hold all potentially negligent parties fully accountable. For a free consultation and case assessment with one of our experienced attorneys, call Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979. You may also message us through our online contact form.

Truck Accident Attorneys - Bailey Javins & Carter

Accidents with Poorly Loaded Trucks

Trucking accidents are some of the deadliest that occur on the roadways. Thousands of individuals are killed each year in accidents involving commercial trucks, and the vast majority of those killed are occupants of passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians who are involved in these incidents. There are numerous reasons 18-wheeler accidents occur, and with many of these accidents, there are several contributing factors.

For example, an accident may occur because the truck driver is too close to the vehicle in front of them and unable to stop in time to avoid a crash when the other vehicle slowed down. However, upon further investigation, we may learn that the brake lines were faulty, which shortened the truck’s braking distance. We may also learn that the driver was tired and not paying close enough attention to the vehicle in front of them because they were on the road for too long.

Some of the most serious trucking accidents are caused by overloaded trucks or trucks with unevenly loaded cargo. Loaded commercial trucks typically weigh 80,000 pounds or more. And when they are overloaded or poorly loaded, they can create all kinds of hazards, such as:

  • Cargo falling out of the truck and striking other vehicles or individuals nearby;
  • Putting extra strain on key truck parts, such as the frame, suspension, springs, brakes, and tires;
  • Increased risk of jackknifing, tipping, or decoupling.

Last August, a semi-truck carrying 40,000 pounds of Hershey products rolled unto its side while traveling on Interstate 470 in Ohio County, WV. The accident resulted in hundreds of pounds of sweet treats being dumped onto the road. Thankfully, no one was hurt when the truck was tipped to its side, but this is an example of what can happen with poorly loaded trucks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets the Cargo Securement Rules for commercial vehicles. These rules state the following:

Cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured on or within a vehicle by structures of adequate strength, dunnage (loose materials used to support and protect cargo) or dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle), shoring bars, tiedowns or a combination of these.

Unfortunately, FMCSA standards are not always followed when trucks are loaded. Drivers and shipping companies are typically working under very tight (and often unrealistic) deadlines. This puts pressure on those loading the trucks to complete this task promptly. Trucks may also be loaded beyond their allowed weight limits when shippers are trying to consolidate more cargo into one load in order to save money.

How Poorly Loaded Trucks Can Cause Big-Rig Accidents

Overloaded trucks or imbalanced loads are often one of the hidden causes of a trucking accident. For example, jackknifing, tipping, and decoupling can happen for a number of reasons, such as ice, heavy winds, and other types of inclement weather. However, overweight trucks or poorly balanced loads can contribute to this situation.

Those who drive passenger vehicles probably do not think much about weight distribution most of the time, but it makes a big difference with an 18-wheeler. As mentioned earlier, a fully-loaded big-rig truck typically carries upwards of 80,000 pounds or more. A truck with too much weight or a truck with a poorly balanced load is much more difficult to handle even under the best of conditions. But when these trucks start driving up curvy, winding, mountain roads like what we have here in West Virginia, sometimes all it takes is a moderate gust of wind and/or a little bit of rain or ice to create an accident.

Injured in a Truck Accident in West Virginia? Contact a Nationally-Recognized Personal Injury Attorney

Accidents with commercial trucks can be highly complex cases because there are typically multiple contributing factors and several parties that could potentially be responsible. To get to the bottom of what happened, a thorough investigation is required, and this should be headed up by attorneys who thoroughly understand this area of the law and what it takes to recover full and fair compensation in these types of cases.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have successfully represented countless individuals who have been injured in trucking accidents and all other types of personal injuries. We have over four decades of experience, and we have been highly acclaimed not only for our experience and skill, but also for our client-centered focus and our tireless commitment to providing the strong personalized representation our clients deserve. For a free consultation with one of our seasoned attorneys, contact our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979, or send us a message through our online contact form.