Crashes involving trucks and 18-wheelers can have serious consequences. Previously, we have discussed the different types of vehicles that can be classified as commercial motor vehicles, how to identify them, and the rules and regulations that apply to commercial motor vehicles. Determining whether the at-fault vehicle that caused your accident was a commercial motor vehicle is an essential step towards obtaining full and fair compensation for the injuries you sustained. Still, it is equally important to identify every person and company that can be responsible for causing the crash.
Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding your accident, there can be several different responsible parties. Hiring a lawyer with experience in handling trucking crashes is extremely important to ensure every negligent party is held accountable for their wrongdoing. This series will focus on some of the different parties that may be responsible for causing a trucking accident: the truck driver, the motor carrier, the broker, and the shipper.
The Truck Driver
The truck driver is the first person who will likely be identified as a cause of the crash. This can be due to something as simple as not following the rules of the road or driving distracted. Among the most frequent driving mistakes made by commercial drivers are:
- Failing to leave adequate stopping distance between themselves and vehicles ahead of them;
- Failing to monitor vehicles entering and exiting their blind spots adequately;
- Driving distracted;
- Making improper left turns;
- Attempting to make a U-Turn; and
- Driving too fast for conditions.
These are just a few of the most common mistakes that commercial drivers make that lead to crashes. However, it is important to look deeper to see if any causes are specific to the trucking industry.
For example, the driver could fail to leave adequate space between themselves and the vehicles ahead of them because they are driving fatigued and driving over the hours of service regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The driver may be driving distracted because they are violating the rules and regulations related to mobile telephone use. It is also possible that the driver could have failed to conduct an adequate pre-trip inspection of his vehicle and failed to notice an issue with a mirror, tire, brake line, or another part of the vehicle that ultimately leads to a crash. The driver could even have health issues that should have precluded them from operating a commercial motor vehicle.
It is crucial to hire a lawyer who understands how to find the root cause of a trucking crash. The right lawyer not only understands the rules and regulations that apply to commercial motor vehicles, but how they apply to the cause of your accident. A thorough investigation into the truck driver and their actions, not just on the date of the accident, but in the days and weeks leading up to the accident, is vital to ensuring anyone injured by a commercial motor vehicle receives the maximum possible compensation.
The investigation should not stop there. It is important to understand what the truck driver did wrong and how their actions lead to the crash. Still, it is even more important to look at other companies and entities to get an understanding of exactly why the driver did what they did. Often we will find that a truck driver violated a rule of the road or regulation because they were following orders from their employer or were trying to meet extremely unreasonable deadlines.
The next part of this series will focus on the next entity that should be focused on as part of any thorough investigation into a trucking accident – the motor carrier.