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.
There are a number of different reasons why trucking accidents occur, and problems such as distracted driving and chemical impairment are talked about frequently in the media. But one issue that is often overlooked is poor visibility.
In addition to blind spot accidents, there are several other visibility issues that can cause commercial truck accidents. These include:
Truckers who drive full-time over the road run into all different types of weather. Heavy rain and fog can occur at any time of the year, and snowy conditions are very common in the winter, especially in mountainous states like West Virginia. Periods of fog and heavy rain or snow can make it nearly impossible for drivers to see the roads.
Although sunlight is usually accompanied by dry roads and better driving conditions, there are periods during certain days when continual glare from bright sunlight can cause visibility problems.
Most of us are familiar with the visibility issues that motorists encounter when driving at night. Of course, the darker it is, the more difficult it is to see, which means night drivers must use their headlights (and brights at times) to navigate the roadways.
Drowsiness and Fatigue
Many truckers drive while drowsy or fatigued, which can cause their eyes to get blurry and significantly limit their peripheral vision.
Liability for Poor Visibility Truck Accidents
When a truck accident occurs because of visibility problems, it is very often the fault of the truck driver if the crash was a result of their negligent actions and/or a violation of a government regulation.
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.