Accidents involving commercial trucks tend to be more severe than accidents between personal-use vehicles. By comparison, commercial trucks are much larger, heavier, and more difficult to maneuver. Add in a load of hazardous or flammable materials (such as gasoline or industrial waste), and an accident could be even more dire.
Because of these disparities, truck drivers undergo special training and licensing in order to drive the massive vehicles. Though the training reduces the amount of truck accidents compared to car accidents, it also means that the law holds truck drivers, and manufacturers, to higher standards when accidents occur. So if you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you may be entitled to compensation.
Determining fault or liability
Fault in truck accidents can be determined by a variety of factors, including local and state laws that seek to recognize:
- Responsibility: A duty was owed to the plaintiff, by a defendant, to exercise a reasonable degree of care to avoid injury under the circumstances;
- Negligence: A defendant neglected to exercise a reasonable degree of care that was owed to the plaintiff;
- Cause: The cause of injury was due to the defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care.
Note: Some states apply a theory called “comparative negligence” which basically splits the blame between drivers who then share responsibility for covering damages. If your liability for the accident exceeds 50%, you may not be able to recover anything.
Special considerations for truck accidents
Suing a driver’s trucking company for injuries
A company can be held legally liable for a driver’s negligence only if the driver is an employee of the trucking company. When a driver is an independent contractor, establishing the liability of a company can be difficult.
Suing the shipper of the chemicals as well as the truck driver
It’s the shipper’s duty to inform the driver, or the trucking company, of the hazardous materials contained in the freight. If the shipper fails to do advise accordingly, the shipper may be held liable for your injuries.
Damages caused when a truck jackknifes
Jackknifing, by itself, is not proof of negligence. Drivers may not be held liable when jackknifing occurs due to unforeseeable road conditions or hazards, such as breaking, sliding or swerving due to icy conditions or to avoid obstacles on the road.
Accidents caused when trucks make wide turns
Due to their size, commercial vehicles often require the use of multiple lanes to make a right turn. It is not always a clear case of negligence, but some courts have held that driving a big rig in this manner (turning from an inside lane or occupying two lanes) is sufficient to establish the truck driver’s fault.
Get your case reviewed for free
If you think someone else may be responsible for your accident, you should have the facts of your claim reviewed. A qualified truck accident lawyer can help you determine your next steps, protect your legal rights, and seek financial compensation for physical, emotional, and/or financial losses resulting from the accident or subsequent injuries.