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About 130,000 people are injured every year because of truck accidents. What's more, on an average 500,000 truck accidents and crashes occur across the United States annually. Most of these accidents, as many as 84%, happen in absolutely normal weather conditions. Furthermore, when it comes to traffic fatalities, 1 in every 8 deaths is due to a truck crash. Large-sized trailers and especially 18 wheelers can particularly be very dangerous if not handled in the right manner. There are various reasons why such deadly collisions happen ranging from driver fatigue to drunk driving. Read on to find out why these accidents happen and who can be held liable for the same.
Truck Driver's Fault
Tractor trailers, semi and big rigs, 18 wheelers are huge vehicles which can be potentially very dangerous for other road users if their drivers don't take the necessary precaution. Here are some reasons why truck crashes happen because of a driver's fault -
No qualifications and proper training - In order to drive heavy-duty trucks and trailer, one needs to undergo rigorous training and have proper qualifications to undertake a suitable job. Failure on the part of the driver to do this can result in fatal accidents. Different trucks have different mechanism and therefore one needs to be trained properly to handle a particular type of truck.
Failure to take safety course - Truck drivers are required by law to take safety courses. Not taking the course seriously and ignoring its importance can lead to catastrophic disasters. Taking a professional safety course helps avoid deadly collisions to a large extent.
Fatigue and stress - Most truck drivers are forced to deliver goods despite the fact that they are feeling stressed out. This, however, should be avoided. Not only does it put the truck driver at risk but it's equally dangerous for other road users as well. Many drivers deliberately over-work in order to some extra cash. The law makes it necessary for truck drivers not to exceed their pre-determined working limit. Overstressed drivers often cause a lot of fatal accidents.
Lack of inspection and proper maintenance - Further, a truck that is improperly maintained can also lead to dangerous accidents. Therefore, it's advisable for truck drivers to ensure that the truck is inspected and maintained on a periodic basis. Damaged parts, defective steering, transmission failure, worn out tires, failed brakes etc. have enough potential to contribute to a road disaster.
Error in driving - Many drivers commit serious blunders on the road such as misjudging the distance between their truck and other vehicle. What's more, many even drive recklessly and underestimate the risk of road hazards. Truck drivers, who keep on drinking while they drive, often stop abruptly on the road, make dangerous passes, cross lanes irresponsibly and make extremely wide turns.
Unsecured load - Lastly, the load on the truck can also contribute to accidents. Many drivers fail to secure the load which eventually ends up hurting other road users. Not only this, drivers overload a truck without knowing its harmful consequences. Overloading a truck beyond its limit is dangerous to both the truck and other vehicles on the road.
Other Party's Fault
While truck drivers might be at fault, other road users can be equally at fault for contributing to the accident. Drunk driving, perhaps, happen to be the most common reason why such catastrophic accidents happen across US.
Making a wrong pass - When it comes to passing a truck, one must be very careful. However, many of us fail to notice its importance. A slight mistake can prove to be dangerous. Many drivers fail to notice trucks in the rear-view mirror and even try to slow down as soon as they have made the pass. This should be avoided by all means because the results can be fairly catastrophic!
Driving the blind spots - Big trucks including tractor trailer trucks have what is known as blind spots. Failing to notice a truck's blind spot can lead to accidents. Blind spot is where the truck driver fails to notice other vehicles. Failure to understand a blind spot's location and scope can be dangerous.
Underestimating large-sized trucks - Most drivers underestimate the power of a large-sized truck and eventually end up causing an accident. 18 wheelers and other heavy vehicles need both time and space to make turns and stop. Ignoring these points only leads to disasters.
Determining who's at fault
It is not so easy to determine the liability when it comes to trucking accidents. A host of people may be held responsible for those who have been injured in an accident. It can be anyone, the truck driver, trucking company, manufacturer of the vehicle or even the person who has leased the truck from its owner. If you have been injured in one such accident, don't forget to get in touch with an experienced personal injury attorney. Remember, laws governing truck accidents can get really complex depending on your case. Therefore, it's important to have an attorney besides you. Trucking companies, have long, been avoiding the liability and often fail to take the responsibility of the accident if their truck driver was at fault. They argue the driver is not the company's employee and that they don't own the equipment and so are not responsible for the accident.
However, federal regulations and law, now make it easier to determine the liability. As per the present federal law, companies owning the trucking permit are responsible for truck accidents provided their name is displayed on the truck. Lease agreements don't matter here. If the driver is at fault (whether he is an employee of the company or an independent contractor), the company will be held liable for the accident.
Never try and handle your personal injury cases on your own. One needs a strong legal representation in the court because you never know about the complexities involved in a legal procedure. So, as an accident victim consult one of the experienced attorneys in your area today to get justice.