When Can Trucking Companies Be Held Liable for Truck Wrecks?

Despite ongoing attempts to improve safety on the roads and highways throughout the United States, motor vehicle collisions continue to be a serious concern. Accidents can happen at any time and in any place, and they often result in serious injuries, extensive property damage, financial losses, and emotional trauma. Truck accidents can be especially devastating. Since large commercial vehicles are so much larger and heavier than passenger cars and trucks, they can inflict massive amounts of damage and catastrophic injuries in a collision. 

For people who have been injured in commercial truck accidents, determining how to move forward and address their injuries and financial losses can be difficult. They may be unsure about whether an accident was caused by a negligent truck driver or other parties. Determining who may be held responsible for the harm they have suffered may seem like an impossible task. Fortunately, with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, victims of truck wrecks can take action against negligent trucking companies and recover the financial compensation they deserve.

Liability for Commercial Truck Accidents

In many cases, truck wrecks are caused by negligent truck drivers, although other parties may also be partially responsible. When an employee acts negligently and causes others to suffer harm while they are performing work-related duties, their employer may be held liable for a victim’s damages. This is due to the principle of “vicarious liability,” which may apply in truck accident cases and ensure that a trucking company can be held responsible for a truck accident.

Trucking companies may be held liable for truck accidents involving factors such as:

  • Hours of service violations - There are numerous federal regulations that apply to drivers of commercial vehicles, and they are meant to help ensure that truck drivers will be able to operate their vehicles safely. Hours of service regulations limit the amount of time a truck driver can spend behind the wheel. There are strict limits for the length of shifts during a day, the number of hours a person can drive each week, and the breaks that must be taken to ensure that a driver receives sufficient rest. Unfortunately, some truck drivers disobey these regulations, and they may falsify their driving logs or engage in other violations so that they can spend more hours on the road and make more money. In some cases, trucking companies even encourage these practices, or they may require drivers to continue driving even if they report that they are too drowsy or fatigued to drive safely. These unsafe practices can significantly increase the likelihood of accidents, since fatigued drivers will be more likely to make mistakes, or they may even fall asleep behind the wheel, lose control of their vehicles, and cause devastating collisions.
  • Negligent hiring or training - Trucking companies must take all appropriate steps to ensure that their drivers will be able to operate commercial vehicles safely. Unfortunately, due to a shortage of qualified truck drivers, some companies may cut corners and fail to ensure that their employees are fully prepared to drive large trucks and deliver cargo while following the proper safety procedures. Companies may hire drivers without performing the proper background checks, and they may allow drivers to operate vehicles even if they have a history of serious traffic violations, intoxicated driving offenses, or other safety concerns. They may also fail to properly train drivers on the safe operation of commercial vehicles. Without the necessary training, drivers may not be prepared to handle dangerous or unexpected situations, and they may be unable to avoid accidents.
  • Inadequate maintenance of commercial trucks - 18-wheelers and big rig trucks have many complex components, and all of these parts must be in proper working order at all times. If a trucking company fails to perform the proper maintenance on trucks, safety systems may break down, leading to dangerous truck wrecks. If tires are not changed after they wear down, they may blow out, causing a truck driver to lose control. Air brakes that are not properly maintained may fail, affecting a driver’s ability to slow down and potentially leading to rear-end collisions or other types of accidents. Other systems that may break down when they are not properly maintained include engines, steering systems, trailer couplings, and lighting systems, and the failure of any of these components can lead to accidents and injuries.
  • Improper loading or overloaded cargo - Commercial trucks carry multiple types of heavy cargo, and it is essential to ensure that items are properly loaded and secured. If cargo is distributed incorrectly in a truck’s cargo area, or if it is not tied down and held in place, a truck may become unbalanced, making a driver more likely to lose control. Strict weight limits apply to commercial trucks, and if these limits are exceeded, a driver’s control may be affected. Cargo that is not properly secured can also fall from a truck. Large, heavy items may fall on other vehicles, crushing them and causing serious injuries to their occupants. Even if cargo does not directly strike other cars or trucks, it is likely to create dangerous obstacles in the road. Drivers may collide with these items, or they may collide with other vehicles when swerving to avoid obstacles. On busy highways or freeways, fallen cargo can lead to multi-vehicle pileups, massive amounts of damage, and severe injuries or fatalities. A trucking company may be held responsible for failing to ensure that the proper loading procedures were followed.

Get Legal Help From a Dallas Commercial Truck Accident Attorney

People who are injured in truck accidents may be seriously injured, and this may not only affect their health and well-being, but it can lead to significant financial losses. To ensure that a victim can receive compensation to address their medical expenses, damage to their vehicle or other property, loss of income due to short-term or long-term disabilities, physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and any other damages they have suffered, it is important to work with an experienced attorney. A Fort Worth truck wreck lawyer can provide legal representation in these situations, working to negotiate settlements with trucking companies and insurance companies or pursuing litigation to ensure that a victim will be fully compensated for their injuries and other damages. With the right attorney on their side, truck accident victims can receive the compensation they need and deserve.

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