Truck Accident Lawyers in the U.S.
Taking On Dangerous Truck Drivers and Trucking Companies
Faulty equipment, poor management and training, and driver negligence can destroy a life in seconds. These are some of the biggest causes of truck accidents—yet, despite regulation and oversight, the rate of such accidents is far above zero. The drivers and companies who think it is okay to endanger Americans must be held accountable for their negligence.
Accidents involving a tractor-trailer often have more parties involved than just the driver. Negligence from the driver’s employer, the manufacturer, mechanic, or even loader can all impact a collision. Identifying the liable party can be a challenge of its own in a truck accident claim; filing an insurance claim can, likewise, quickly become a complex affair. In a situation like this, you need a skilled attorney on your side.
Our team at Athea Trial Lawyers is composed of leading litigators from around the country who have taken on several serious and high-profile cases. No matter how complex your claim, our team can help
Types of Truck Accidents
A truck accident refers to any collision involving a commercial truck or tractor-trailer. These accidents can result in significant damage to property, severe injuries, or even fatalities due to the size and weight of the vehicles involved. Common types of truck accidents include:
- Rear-end collisions: This occurs when a truck hits the vehicle in front of it. It might happen due to the truck driver's inability to stop in time, often because of speeding, distracted driving, or poor road conditions.
- Jackknife accidents: Jackknifing happens when the trailer of a truck swings outward, forming an acute angle with the cab. This typically occurs when the trailer loses traction with the road surface, leading to loss of control.
- Underride accidents: In these accidents, a smaller vehicle slides underneath the trailer of a truck, often resulting in catastrophic injuries or fatalities for the occupants of the smaller vehicle. Underride guards are supposed to prevent this, but they are not always effective.
- Rollover accidents: Rollovers happen when a truck tips onto its side or roof. This can occur due to various factors such as excessive speed while turning, uneven loading, or sudden maneuvers.
- Blind spot accidents: Trucks have large blind spots, especially on the sides and rear. Accidents can occur when vehicles linger in these blind spots, and the truck driver fails to see them while changing lanes or making turns.
- Tire blowouts: When a truck's tire blows out, it can cause the driver to lose control, leading to a collision. Tire blowouts can occur due to factors like overloading, poor maintenance, or road debris.
- Wide-turn accidents: Trucks require more space to turn than smaller vehicles. Accidents can happen when drivers of smaller vehicles attempt to pass a turning truck on the inside lane, leading to collisions.
- Lost load accidents: Improperly secured cargo can spill onto the road, creating hazards for other vehicles and potentially causing accidents.
Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can occur due to various factors, but they are mostly caused by driver error. Some common causes of truck accidents include:
- Driver Fatigue: Truck drivers often face demanding schedules, leading to fatigue and drowsiness behind the wheel. Hours-of-service regulations aim to mitigate this risk, but violations still occur, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
- Distracted Driving: Just like any other motorists, truck drivers can become distracted by activities like texting, talking on the phone, eating, adjusting the radio, or using navigation systems while driving, diverting their attention from the road and increasing accident risks.
- Speeding: Speeding is a significant factor in many truck accidents. Trucks require longer stopping distances due to their size and weight. When truck drivers exceed speed limits or fail to adjust their speed to road and weather conditions, they increase the likelihood of collisions.
- Poor Vehicle Maintenance: Neglected maintenance can lead to mechanical failures such as brake problems, tire blowouts, or steering malfunctions, all of which can cause accidents. Regular inspections and maintenance are essential for ensuring truck safety.
- Improper Loading or Cargo Securement: Incorrectly loaded cargo or improperly secured loads can shift during transit, leading to loss of control, rollovers, or spilled cargo on the road, posing hazards to other vehicles.
- Driving under the Influence: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs judgment, reaction time, and coordination, increasing the likelihood of accidents. Strict regulations prohibit commercial drivers from operating vehicles under the influence, but violations still occur.
- Weather Conditions: Adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow, ice, fog, or strong winds can reduce visibility and traction, making it challenging to control large trucks. Drivers must adjust their driving behavior accordingly to minimize accident risks.
- Inadequate Training or Experience: Truck drivers require specialized training and experience to safely operate large commercial vehicles. Inexperienced or inadequately trained drivers may lack the skills necessary to handle challenging situations on the road, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
- Unsafe Driving Practices: This includes behaviors such as tailgating, improper lane changes, failure to signal, aggressive driving, or ignoring traffic laws and regulations. These actions can lead to collisions with other vehicles or result in the loss of control of the truck.
- Road Design or Conditions: Poorly designed roads, construction zones, narrow lanes, sharp curves, or inadequate signage can contribute to truck accidents. These factors may increase the difficulty of maneuvering large trucks safely.
Why Liability Is Complex In Truck Accident Claims
In semi-truck accidents, it is far more likely a commercial entity will be liable than an individual driver. Fighting a large company for compensation is often more difficult on its own—not to mention the difficulty you may have proving the company owes you. Our attorneys can handle some of the most complex issues of truck accident liability.
Understanding Vicarious Liability
Even when a negligent driver is at fault for a truck accident, they may not be liable if they are working as an employee. This is because companies are typically responsible for the activities of workers who are on the clock. Therefore, we would consider a trucking company to blame for hiring an employee and putting them on the road in a large vehicle, where they could hurt others.
Of course, vicarious liability does not mean the trucking company will be eager to accept the blame. These corporations often send investigators to an accident scene as soon as they hear one has happened with the goal of finding any evidence to exonerate their driver. We can fight back with investigative work of our own, including looking at the company’s operations to determine whether it performs proper background checks or has violated hours of service laws.
Contractor or Employee?
Not all truckers work as an employee: Some are essentially one-person companies who freelance for those who need freight hauled. These drivers are responsible for having insurance and compensating a victim after an accident. However, this is only true if they are actually contractors. Often, trucking companies misclassify employees, treating them as contractors so they can avoid liability for accidents as well as other expenses like payroll taxes.
This is unfair to drivers, but more importantly, it’s unfair to accident victims who cannot access these companies’ insurance policies. Sometimes, bringing a claim involves arguing a trucking company has been dishonest in employee classification. Winning on this point means the company’s insurance, rather than the individual’s, has to pay your claims—and you could be able to receive much more compensation.
Vehicle and Part Defects
Large trucks travel tens of thousands of miles each year in long-haul trips. This means they need a lot of maintenance to ensure they are running smoothly and safely. It also means they must be designed for safety and made with durable parts and materials. When the designers, manufacturers, or even sellers of eighteen-wheelers fail to put safety first, their vehicles can malfunction mid-drive. Truck drivers may lose control after discovering their brakes no longer work or experiencing a tire blow-out.
Proving a defective part or vehicle claim is a difficult matter that requires testimony from engineers and industry experts. Often, accident victims will need to demonstrate how a malfunction caused the crash. This means creating simulations and making detailed comparisons to trucks without defective parts. Our firm has the resources to handle this kind of in-depth preparatory work and the skill to present such facts in a way juries and judges can understand.
Other Third-Party Liability Claims
Often, multiple companies are involved in making a truck safe, from the mechanic who checks over trucks before they go on the road to the freight loaders who must ensure proper weight distribution to prevent a driver from losing control. Every time another company is implicated in your case, that means opening another investigation to show why they must pay.
Our team has handled multiple complex and high-profile cases against companies that endangered the public. When it comes to a truck accident claim, we can thoroughly investigate and prosecute your case, so you receive the maximum compensation available.
Truck Accident Lawyers On Your Side
Walking away from a truck accident with minor injuries or no injury is rare. More often serious injury, or even death, is the result. The resulting emotional and financial trauma can be overwhelming. Our team is here to provide all-around support to you ad your family members as you try to find a path forward.
Our team at Athea Trial Lawyers is cross-trained in multiple areas of the law. This accumulation of knowledge and experience helps us craft novel strategies to pursue justice for you. Our attorneys are recognized as some of the top trial lawyers in the country and have been trusted by injury victims across the U.S. to help with complex claims. Reach out to us today to learn what we can do for you.
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Athea Trial Lawyers is a firm comprised of six of the most accomplished female trial attorneys in the nation. We don’t believe in glass ceilings and we don’t just lean in – we take the lead and WIN.
Friedman | Rubin, PLLP, Bremerton, WA
Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C
The Lanier Law Firm, Houston
Gair Gair Conason
Panish Shea & Boyle LLP
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