Who Might be at Fault for an 18-Wheeler Accident?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Sara Williams with Alexander Shunnarah Injury Attorneys, P.C..
Large truck accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, but the elements that tend to remain consistent include the severity of the damages involved and the parties that may be liable. Due to the amount of damage a semi-truck or 18-wheeler can cause with its size and weight relative to a standard passenger vehicle, truck drivers and trucking companies are required to meet and follow strict industry safety regulations designated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). However, truck drivers and trucking companies are far from the only liable parties in a truck accident.
Parties that may be at fault for an 18-wheeler accident include:
- Passenger vehicle drivers: Passenger vehicle drivers are required to follow safe driving practices and traffic laws at all times; even a standard vehicle driver can easily cause an accident when breaking the law or engaging in unsafe driving near an 18-wheeler, such as making sudden lane changes or stops near or around a truck that requires longer stopping distances. Large trucks require a greater amount of time to react to changes on the road, so when drivers fail to signal, drive distracted, drive in blind spots, or do not follow other general safe driving practices, the passenger vehicle driver could be considered liable for a resulting accident.
- Truck drivers: Truck drivers in particular are held to higher standards of safety due to the increased risk associated with the vehicles they drive. Truck drivers are required to undergo additional training and are typically highly-skilled individuals. However, truck drivers are just as susceptible to distractions as other drivers, and they are considered to be more at risk for driving while fatigued. Pressure from trucking companies can motivate truckers to violate hours of service limits, staying on the road longer than is safe to do without a break. Truck drivers are also required to check the condition of their vehicle before starting out; failing to do so can put both the driver and anyone else on the road at increased risk of harm.
- Trucking companies: Trucking companies have been known to pressure their drivers to, directly and indirectly, violate industry and traffic safety regulations in the interest of profit. As a general rule, if a truck isn’t moving, it isn’t making money. This can lead trucking companies to encourage their drivers to forego breaks, stay on the road as long as possible, and rush from location to location. This shortsighted approach to increase profit by cutting corners can put both their own drivers and others on the road at serious risk. Compounding the challenges of a truck accident case is the fact that many trucking companies retain their own legal and insurance teams to shield the company from liability.
- Vehicle manufacturer: Just like passenger vehicles can be subject to design and manufacturing defects, so can large trucks and 18-wheelers. If an accident occurs due to a failed or failing piece of machinery or unsafe design of a large truck, the vehicle manufacturer could be liable. For example, defective tires can increase the risk of blowout in large trucks and passenger vehicles, putting everyone on the road in danger if a tire blows and the driver loses control of the vehicle.
- Maintenance provider: When a trucking company hires a maintenance provider to maintain and repair their vehicles, and a repair is not done correctly resulting in an accident, the maintenance provider could be considered fully or partially liable. The same goes for passenger vehicles that have undergone incorrect repairs before an accident.
To learn about your options for recovery after being involved in an accident with a large truck or 18-wheeler, reach out to a truck accident attorney in your area.