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In 2019, 11% of all motor vehicle crash deaths occurred in a collision involving a large truck. And while that percentage might not seem too ominous, accidents with an 18-wheeler, semi or tractor trailer are more likely to lead to serious injury than ones with other types of vehicles. In accidents involving a passenger vehicle and a semi that resulted in a death, 97% of those deaths were individuals in the passenger vehicle. And on top of that, there are more layers of potential liability to peel back when a crash involves a professionally operated commercial vehicle. Here are a few of the nuances that come into play when a crash involves a semi-truck.
Fault can become complicated in a collision with a semi-truck. Is the driver, the shipping company, the truck manufacturer or another party at fault? Wading through the complexities can be a headache, but it’s a necessary part of the process of finding justice. With both individuals and companies involved, determining fault in a semi-truck incident can grow more complicated than you might expect.
Could it be a manufacturing error, or is it an operator error? If something went wrong with the truck itself, the vehicle manufacturer could bear some of the blame. Semis aren’t like normal passenger vehicles, as they use unique systems for breaking and navigating. And it isn’t just a matter of tires shredding or brakes malfunctioning. A mis-distributed load can lead to problems stopping or turning, too. It’s important to understand exactly how the error occurred so that you can determine which party is liable.
Drivers involved in an accident aren’t the only ones who might bear the responsibility in a crash. The company they’re hauling for, or their employer, may be liable for their employee’s actions while acting within the scope of their duty. In some cases, an employer may be using unsafe practices, like requiring a driver to work longer than the maximum legal shift. But the truck driver may not even be an employee if they operate under their own insurance as an independent contractor, making the situation even more of a maze.
How the truck driver was hired and trained can have an impact on the case. And with driver restrictions, the number of hours they were working at the time can make a difference in the outcome. Commercial drivers have strict regulations governing how long they can drive at a time, with a cap at 11 hours of driving in one stretch. But it’s common for some drivers to push the limit there, so figuring out the hours a driver logged is key to determining liability.
A driver can also be negligent in ways ranging from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol to failing to use a turn signal, exceeding the speed limit, driving faster than is safe given the conditions, driving distracted or changing lanes erratically. A legal professional can help you unwind the lengthy liability questions and seek justice for injury.
Semi-truck crashes can be complicated to understand, but not impossible with the right expertise. Cok Kinzler can help you get to the bottom of the details and navigate these complex nuances for you. If you or a loved one has experienced an injury related to a semi-truck crash, get in touch for a free consultation on your case and get the assistance that can help you find your way to due process after an injury.