Truck accidents can be devastating. Because they are such massive vehicles, when commercial trucks collide with passenger cars, it’s often the occupants of the car who sustain serious or catastrophic injuries. The financial and mental costs arising from a truck accident can be hefty. The injured party could pursue compensation for damages if they were not the one who caused the collision. But knowing who to take action against requires knowing the cause of the wreck.
Several factors can lead to a car accident, including:
- Driver error,
- Driver fatigue,
- Distracted driving,
- Equipment malfunctions,
- Substance use,
- Lack of training, and
- Improper cargo load.
Depending on what caused the crash, one or more parties could be liable for damages.
Some of the Different Causes of Truck Accidents
To seek compensation after an accident, the injured party must file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. The claim must establish that the entity action being taken against is the one who caused the crash. If the individual initiates a claim against a person or company not responsible for the accident, their request for financial recovery may be denied. Thus, it is crucial to know what led to the wreck to identify where to file the claim.
Below are some of the common causes of truck accidents.
The truck driver might have made a mistake in handling their vehicle when responding to certain situations. For instance, the driver might have been going too fast when it was raining or snowing or they might have taken a turn too quickly.
When drivers act below the standard of care, they could be deemed negligent.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates how many hours truck drivers can be on the road. They cannot drive more than 11 hours a day and must have a 30-minute break after having driven 8 hours.
Although these drive-time regulations exist, not all drivers or trucking companies adhere to them. Pressed to meet delivery deadlines, drivers may be on the road hours longer than is lawfully allowed.
A fatigued driver has slower reaction times and can fall asleep behind the wheel. Both of which can cause the driver to collide with other vehicles.
The failure of any of the components required to operate the truck or secure the cargo can cause accidents.
Examples of equipment malfunctions include:
- Brake issues: If the brakes are faulty or poorly maintained, the driver might not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.
- Steering issues: Problems with the steering can cause the driver to lose control.
- Tire tread separation: This occurs when the tread of the tire separates from the body. If this happens while driving, the driver might not be able to safely maneuver the vehicle. They could crash or rollover.
- Faulty cargo straps: If the tie-downs or other equipment used to secure the cargo malfunctions, the commodities could fall off or out of the truck, striking other vehicles.
When driving for long stretches, truck drivers might feel the need to occupy their minds by doing other tasks.
These might include:
- Using a cell phone, or
- Changing the radio.
Anything that pulls the driver's eyes off the road, attention away from driving, or hands off the wheel is distracted driving. Even just a few seconds of inattention is enough to lead to an accident.
Unfortunately, some truck drivers get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol and/or drugs. Any intoxicating substance in their system can affect their ability to safely control the vehicle. The driver’s reaction time and coordination may be diminished, causing them to weave between lanes, drive the wrong way, fail to avoid hazards, or engage in other dangerous driving behaviors.
Lack of Training
Truck drivers should receive a certain number of training hours before traveling alone. However, not all get the required training. Inexperienced drivers might not have the skills and expertise of more senior drivers, causing them to make mistakes a properly trained driver would not have.
Improper Cargo Load
The FMCSA has rules for securing cargo. If the cargo loader does not follow the regulations, the commodities could be stacked poorly, unevenly distributed, or inadequately secured. The cargo could then shift and fall off the truck, or the driver could struggle to control it.
Establishing Liability for a Truck Accident
Once the cause of the collision is identified, the injured party can determine who’s liable. For instance, the driver may be responsible if the driver’s error resulted in the crash. If the accident happened because of a lack of training or driver fatigue because of a regulation violation, the injured party could take action against the trucking company.
Retain Legal Representation for Your Case
Determining the cause of a truck accident can be difficult and requires a thorough examination of the facts. A personal injury attorney can review the evidence, call on experts, and leverage their resources to identify what happened, why it happened, and who is responsible.
If you need help with your claim in Chicago, please contact McHargue & Jones, LLC at (312) 487-2461.