Tractor-trailer wrecks often cause horrific deaths and catastrophic injuries. Because tractor trailers and truck drivers are part of a complex $700 billion industry, accidents often involve joint liability and legal issues that you might not encounter in a car accident case. Because trucking companies have larger risks, they may also have larger liability insurance policy limits. If so, this means that you may have a better chance of recovering damages to adequately compensate you for your medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering.
Determining liability is an important first step in a trucking accident lawsuit. With over 186,000 trucking companies and 3.5 million commercial drivers in the United States, each accident has different issues in play. Lawsuits can involve any party that drives, maintains, owns or operates an at-fault truck. Here are a few examples that show common causes of truck accidents and who might be responsible.
Truck Accident Causes
- Fatigue, intoxication and distracted driving are a few examples of behavior that drivers are directly responsible for. Trucking companies may share liability with the driver when they offer incentives for drivers who work more, sleep less, and take fewer breaks.
- Brake failure is a frequent cause of trucking accidents. Truck leasing companies and truck owners are responsible for maintaining equipment. Drivers are also responsible for inspecting and testing the brakes before each trip.
- Burned-out turn signals and markers can lead to fatal accidents. This is another example of maintenance problems that should be detected during daily inspections by the driver.
- At high speeds, tire blowouts can lead to deadly rollovers and jack-knife accidents. Again, worn tires and recaps should be reported following daily inspections.
- Improper loading contributes to many truck accidents. A driver may lose control because the load is overweight, unbalanced or poorly secured. Depending on who loaded the trailer, the trucking company, the shipper or the loading contractor could be responsible.
- The mechanic or maintenance provider could be liable if an improperly installed part makes the vehicle malfunction.
- Product liability becomes an issue when accidents occur because a defective or recalled mechanical part failed.
Federal Violations and Accident Lawsuits
The government has a number of laws that are intended to regulate the trucking industry and increase the safety of national highways. After an accident, your attorney will review the truck’s maintenance records and inspection documents. The driver’s log book can become key evidence in a lawsuit that involves driver fatigue or intoxication. If the driver was texting or talking on a mobile phone, records of these calls can emphasize the driver’s negligence.
Sometimes, the driver shares liability with a trucking company. Today, trucks are driving more miles than ever, and transportation companies are pushing drivers to work harder. The U.S. DOT’s Office of Inspector General has reported an increasing number of cases where drivers have submitted fake log books following devastating accidents.
When Companies are Responsible
The disregard of regulations goes beyond owners and operators. A number of driving schools have falsified CDL (commercial driver’s license) test results. Trucking companies across the nation have violated out-of-service orders by operating trucks that have received serious safety citations. Violations of these federal trucking laws have endangered drivers throughout Georgia.
When ruthless trucking companies and negligent drivers cause deadly or catastrophic accidents, they should be held accountable. Due to the serious nature of truck accidents, companies can be ordered to pay for medical expenses, property damage and lost wages. In addition to these compensatory damages, you may also recover punitive damages that are intended to penalize, punish and deter the defendant driver and/or trucking company from future egregious conduct.
If you’ve been injured by a reckless truck driver anywhere in Georgia, an experienced accident attorney can help. Contact us today to request a free consultation. We can arrange a meeting at our office or a place that’s convenient for you.