Commercial trucks, tractor trailers, and eighteen-wheelers are large and hard to maneuver, which can lead to dangerous situations for the truck driver and other vehicles on the road. While the average consumer vehicle weighs only 3,000 pounds, trucks can weigh 80,000 pounds or more when loaded to capacity. Therefore, a motor vehicle collision involving a commercial truck can be much more catastrophic than an automobile accident between two passenger cars.
Dangers of Commercial Trucks
Commercial trucks also pose additional dangers, depending on the nature of the material that the truck is carrying. When a truck carrying hazardous or flammable materials is involved in an accident, the vehicles involved in the accident, as well as other individuals in the area are at an elevated risk for harm. In some cases, improper truck loading or overloading trucks can be a contributing factor to a truck accident. Equipment defects, such as defective tires or brakes, are another common cause of truck collisions. Poor weather conditions and defective roadways may also result in serious accidents with trucks on American highways.
Liability for Truck Accidents
The basic theory of liability in a commercial truck accident is that the driver, trucking company, or business entity is negligent if they failed to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances, and the plaintiff’s injuries were a result of said failure. Improper maintenance of a truck is one example of negligent behavior that can lead to brake failure or other mechanical problems that increase the risk of tractor trailer accidents. When truckers are drive longer than is permitted by law, they often become fatigued and are not alert and responsive to road conditions or the presence of other vehicles. Inadequate driver training, speeding to meet a delivery deadline, aggressive driving, and driver distraction because of cell phones, radios, or GPS systems are additional forms of auto accident negligence that cause truck accidents each year.
Types of Tractor Trailer Crashes: Turning and Jackknifing Accidents
There are two types of commercial truck accidents under which there are special considerations. Jackknifing, which is the accidental folding of a vehicle at its pivot point, is not considered in itself to be proof of negligence. There are many circumstances under which a jackknifing accident can occur, especially during times of inclement weather. Turning accidents also are not clear-cut in terms of liability. The length of the vehicle often makes turning a difficult process, and sometimes requires two lanes to make a right turn in order to avoid damaging parked cars or running the rear wheels onto the sidewalk. While it is not a clear case of negligence, a commercial vehicle taking up two lanes is, in some states, enough to establish that the truck driver is at fault.
Truck Accident Lawyers
Determining fault in a truck accident case is a complex process that usually requires a thorough investigation of the accident site and the vehicles involved, including the examination of skid marks, points of impact, and vehicle damage. There are a number of parties that may be held liable for damages suffered by the victims of the truck collision, including the truck driver, tractor trailer owner, and truck maintenance contractor. If you or a loved one is the victim of a tractor trailer accident, contacting an experienced truck accident attorney can help you determine who is responsible for your injuries and recover the compensation you need.