No vehicle accident is a welcome event, but when an accident involves a commercial truck, things can get complicated fast. There may be many confusing factors involved in sorting out what happened and who is to blame when someone gets hurt, so here are a few considerations to keep in mind when involved in a commercial truck accident.
What is a commercial truck?
Specifically, commercial trucks are the oversized vehicles seen on America’s highways at all times of the day and night. They are a vital part of the national infrastructure, transporting the majority of our goods from one place to another.
These trucks are driven by specially trained drivers who are under specific rules and regulations that do not apply to private drivers. In California, these drivers must have specific types of licenses, must undergo regular substance abuse testing, and must not drive more than a certain number of hours without rest.
Why are commercial truck accidents a problem?
There are a couple reasons why accidents involving tractor trailers are typically more serious than ordinary car accidents. For one thing, the size of these vehicles means that they are capable of doing far more damage in an accident than any private vehicle could do. Another problem is the size of roads relative to the size of the trucks. Most roads are designed with private vehicles in mind. Turning radiuses and road widths are not ideal for something as large as a commercial tractor trailer, making it harder to drive these big rigs safely.
California in particular has a problem with commercial truck safety, with the highest average number of fatal large truck and bus crashes during the 2014-2016 period.
Who is responsible for these trucks?
A commercial tractor trailer may be owned and maintained by an individual driver, by a transport company that owns a fleet of these vehicles, or by a business that owns and maintains its own trucks and controls its own deliveries.
Sometimes, it’s easy to know who was at fault in an accident. If a driver was drinking or texting, for example, or if the weather caused the accident, things are straightforward. But most of the time, it’s far more complicated and multiple entities may be implicated in the accident.
How do you figure out who was at fault?
When a component on a truck fails and causes an accident, the issue could be with the original manufacturer, or it could be a failure to maintain the vehicle properly. It then becomes important to know who was responsible for maintenance: the driver, the transport company, or someone else?
Even if the driver was at fault, things can still be tough to figure out. If the driver fell asleep at the wheel, was it because they were violating state laws about driving times for commercial truckers? If so, did they do this voluntarily, or were they forced to do so by an unscrupulous trucking company? It’s important to dig to the bottom of all these issues and find out who is really responsible.
What to do if you’re injured
Plenty of responsible drivers and fleets are careful to maintain their trucks. Some transport companies take their responsibilities very seriously. These are the types of companies that convert their fleets to SeQuential biodiesel to spare the environment, and who take great care to keep their drivers rested and well-compensated.
Unfortunately, plenty of companies cut corners, skip maintenance, and force their truckers to work overtime with unrealistic delivery times, wage garnishment, and even the threat of firing for those who refuse. Such transport companies can also be expected to deny any responsibility for an accident and to use whatever means they can to get out from under their obligation to compensate those were injured.
If you’ve been hurt in a commercial trucking accident, the smartest thing you can do is to get a truck accident attorney California based; one who knows the law and knows trucking companies well. This is the right expert to sort out all the complications of trucking accidents and help you get the compensation you’re entitled to under California law.