Truck accidents can be devastating and are often more severe than other vehicle accidents. According to the National Safety Council, there were more than 5,000 deaths and 116,000 injuries resulting from truck accidents in 2019.
After a truck accident, many people immediately blame the truck driver, but sometimes the trucking company itself is to blame. The commercial trucking company can be held liable if they were negligent and placed other drivers at risk. Let’s take a look at the following:
- Truck Company Negligence
- Steps to Take After a Truck Accident
- The Role of Trucking Accident Lawyers
Truck Company Negligence
Trucking companies can be negligent or held liable for accidents involving their drivers and passenger vehicles for many reasons. The most common types of truck company negligence include:
Loose Hiring Practices: Throughout the past decade, commercial trucking companies have struggled with a shortage of drivers. While the industry is regulated and there are strict guidelines for driver qualifications and certifications, some companies may loosen up their hiring practices to meet the shortage.
During the hiring process, companies are required to conduct certain background checks. Background screenings will inform the company if someone has a poor driving record, a history of substance abuse, or other issues that may put others at risk. Background checks can also reveal if the driver:
- was previously dismissed from another company for violations or safety issues,
- failed drug testing,
- is not medically qualified to drive, or
- is not certified or currently licensed for commercial trucks.
Reputable truck companies rely on background check services to pre-screen their applicants, but other companies may cut corners to meet the demands of their business.
Insufficient Training: New CDL truck drivers are required to receive training to be able to identify potential hazards and operate their trucks safely. Many truck carriers will help someone get certified but may misrepresent the training hours or a driver’s testing performance to get the driver on the road more quickly. Untrained or poorly-trained drivers are a huge risk to others and can contribute to accidents.
Disregarding Hours of Service Laws: Driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of trucking accidents. By law, truck drivers cannot work more than 60 hours in 7 days and are required to take at least a 30-minute break after an 8-hour consecutive drive. To meet delivery deadlines, some trucking companies choose to ignore the hours-of-service law, putting others at risk.
Poor or Nonexistent Maintenance: Maintenance issues account for 6% of truck accidents and are preventable. Trucking companies are required to properly maintain and service their fleet, paying particular attention to the brakes, tires, and electrical systems. Performed maintenance should be logged and documented and vehicles that do not meet safety standards should be retired. If an accident is the result of a poorly maintained truck, the trucking company may be held liable.
Loading Miscalculations: A fully loaded commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when filled with cargo. If the cargo is improperly loaded, or if it is overloaded, the vehicle may not respond as predicted during acceleration and braking. This can cause the truck to roll over or tip and can cause an accident. Trucking companies have to follow the proper loading protocols to reduce this risk.
Negligent training, supervision or entrustment: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations govern the commercial trucking industry to help ensure that drivers are properly qualified, trained, supervised and overseen. Unfortunately, this is not always the case among commercial trucking companies, which can lead to the unsafe, or even dangerous, driving or operation of this massive machinery on our roads and highways.
Steps to Take After a Truck Accident
Trucking accidents are one of the most catastrophic kinds of motor vehicle accidents. The mere size and weight of a truck can cause severe damage to other vehicles and can result in serious injuries and even death.
If you are involved in an accident with a large, commercial truck, or any motor vehicle, it’s important to take these key steps:
- Call 911 and report the crash: Remain at the crash scene and call 911 immediately. Inform the 911 operator of your location and if anyone appears to be injured so they can dispatch the police and an ambulance. If possible, move your car to a safe place, or if your vehicle is immobile, move yourself out of harm’s way. Turn on your hazard lights so other vehicles approaching see your car. When the police arrive, they will interview anyone involved for the police report. Ask for a copy of this report for your records.
- Seek medical attention: If you are injured during the accident, the EMTs responding will provide medical attention. If you do not appear to be injured or feel okay, it is still important to see a doctor after the accident. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, such as internal bleeding, whiplash, or a concussion. Your personal doctor will do a physical exam to discover hidden injuries. This medical report may prove critical if you should file a personal injury claim.
- Collect as much information as possible: Ask for the name, phone number, insurance information, driver’s license number, and employer information from the truck driver involved in the accident. If it is safe to do so, take photos of both your vehicle and the truck.
- Talk to witnesses: If there are other people at the scene of the accident who were not involved, ask them if they witnessed what happened. Sometimes other drivers may notice the cause of the accident. Witnesses are important in trucking accident cases.
- Be careful what you say: Most people will want to apologize after an accident, even if it wasn’t their fault. Be careful to not apologize or admit guilt to anyone on the scene and definitely do not post anything on social media. After an accident, you will receive phone calls from insurance adjusters who are trying to determine who was at fault for the crash. The insurer for the truck will want to avoid any costly insurance claims and may ask questions inferring you were at fault. If you are getting calls from insurance companies, it is important to contact a truck accident injury attorney right away. Our attorneys handle these types of cases with great care, and will handle the insurance calls to ensure no missteps are taken.
The Role of Trucking Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a truck, tractor trailer or other commercial vehicle, contact Lancaster’s TOP Personal Injury Law Firm today at 1-800-HURT-NOW. A truck accident can cause serious injury, lost wages, overwhelming medical bills, and pain and suffering. As a truck accident victim, you have the right to fair compensation.
Our experienced and successful personal injury attorneys have helped countless accident victims get the compensation they deserve. In fact, we have won more than 99% of our cases and recovered more than $60,000,000.00 for our clients. The attorneys at Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C. have handled numerous complex truck accident claims. We know how to investigate these accident claims, make sure the commercial trucking company preserves the necessary evidence and work to get our clients fully compensated for their damages and losses. Georgelis Law has access to all of the resources to hold truck companies accountable for their drivers and any carelessness, negligence or recklessness they may exhibit on the road.
Although there are thousands of accidents each year, every car accident personal injury claim is different, and the circumstances surrounding the accident all need to be considered when deciding if you have a viable case. We can determine if the truck company was liable and how to proceed to ensure you are getting maximum compensation.
We are available 24/7 and will come to you for a free consultation – the hospital, your home, or even a video conference call. We never collect a fee unless we get money for you. Contact us today at 1-800-HURT-NOW or GeorgelisLaw.com, and we’ll handle everything. We are here to help and give you the much-needed peace-of-mind you deserve!