- March 4, 2022
- Truck Accidents
When you’re involved in an accident with a commercial truck, the first question on your mind is likely whether or not you can sue the trucking company. Can you hold a trucking company liable for the damages caused by their driver?
In most cases where the driver is 100% at fault, the answer is yes. Commercial truck drivers who have been issued a commercial driver’s license (CDL) are required to obey the same traffic laws as everyone else on the road, as well as to undergo additional training and pass special road skills tests.
If a trucking company’s driver causes an accident because their conduct fell below the standard of care for a truck driver in the same or similar situation, then the trucking company can be sued and held liable for the damages of their driver.
51% of fatalities in large truck accidents occur on major roads; 34% occur on interstate highways; and 15% on minor streets. Some common causes of accidents involving commercial trucks include:
Driver fatigue. Driver fatigue is a common cause of accidents involving commercial trucks. Truck drivers are susceptible to fatigue because they often spend long hours on the road, and they can’t easily pull over to take a break. Some causes of driver fatigue are:
- Driving long distances without taking breaks
- Driving at night
- Poor sleep habits or sleep deprivation
- Driving in harsh weather conditions
- Monotonous driving environments.
Distracted driving. Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in another activity that takes your attention away from the road. Tractors and trailers are especially dangerous when drivers are distracted, because they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Common causes of distracted driving include:
- Texting or talking on the phone
- Using GPS
- Eating or drinking
- Adjusting the radio
- Using a CB radio.
These types of activities can take a truck driver’s attention away from the road for just a few seconds, but that’s long enough to cause a serious accident.
Improper loading of cargo. Another cause of truck accidents is when the load is not properly secured or balanced. This can cause the truck to swerve or flip over. An overturned truck with hazardous or flammable contents can be especially dangerous. Common causes of cargo-related accidents include:
- Faulty securing of equipment
- Being overloaded or overweight
- Exceeding height regulations
- Poor loading and unloading procedures
- Using the wrong type of trailer.
Inadequate driver training. Commercial drivers need to have a special license to operate a large truck, and they are required to receive training on how to safely operate these vehicles. Truck drivers who do not receive proper training may not be aware of the dangers of operating a large truck and may make careless mistakes that can lead to serious accidents. Some reasons for inexperienced driver errors are:
- Time pressures to finish training
- Inability to perform a proper vehicle inspection
- Lack of experience in driving with high winds, snow, and ice
- Inadequate training with hazardous materials
- Driving without the proper knowledge/endorsement (e.g., tank trailer, double or triple trailers).
Can Trucking Companies Be Sued?
Trucking companies can also be sued if their vehicle was the cause of an accident. In order to file a lawsuit to recover for injuries and other losses, there are a few things that you will need to prove in order to win your case in court when you sue a trucking company.
First, you will need to prove that the trucking company was negligent. This means that you will need to show that the trucking company had a duty of safety to the other motorists, but they did not take the necessary precautions to prevent the accident from happening.
For example, if a truck crashed into a car because of faulty brakes, and the person in the car can show that the trucking company did not properly maintain their truck or trailer, then the trucking company has breached their duty of safety because the vehicle was unsafe to travel on public roads.
Next, you will need to show that the accident caused your injuries. Finally, you will need to prove that you suffered damages as a result of the negligence of the trucking company. These damages are usually to cover your medical bills and any property damage such as repairing or replacing your car.
You can also sue a trucking company if their driver was at fault for the accident. If a truck driver was working at the time of the accident, then the trucking company would be responsible for the damages that their driver caused. You need to prove that the driver was negligent, using the same elements as above – i.e., duty, breach, causation, and damages.
It is important to note that there are some exceptions to these rules. For instance, in the State of North Carolina, if the trucking company you are suing can prove that you were contributorily negligent in the accident, then you may be prevented from recovering any compensation for your injury and damages.
For example, let’s say that the brakes went out on a truck as it approached a car in front of it. The truck driver used his horn to warn the driver of the car to get out of the way, but the car driver was impaired. Instead of going forward to avoid the accident, the driver put the car in reverse, and the truck crashed into the car.
If the trucking company can prove that the driver of the car was also negligent and played a part in causing the accident, then a court could apply contributory negligence and prevent the driver of the car from recovering anything – even though the driver of the car was injured in the accident.
Contact a Skilled Truck Accident Lawyer
Suing a trucking company is not always easy. You’ll need to have an experienced lawyer on your side who understands the complex laws surrounding truck accidents.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, it is important to speak with the truck accident lawyers at Lakota R. Denton, PA. They are available to counsel you on how you can receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
If you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, don’t hesitate to contact an Asheville trial lawyer and discuss your options at 828-333-5996.