Trucking accident cases are distinct, due to the vehicles’ unique accident risks and regulations. Trucks are subject to federal regulations that can influence the courts' determination as to whether they were negligent under the circumstances — a determination that is relevant to the accident victim or the surviving family, where applicable. Any violations by the trucker, trucking company or manufacturers can support a plaintiff’s claims against these parties.
Owing to the enormous proportions of commercial trucks, as well as standard high bumper positions, an instant of trucker inattentiveness can cause tremendous damage to other vehicles and drivers.
Common truck accident causes include:
- A fatigued driver
- Negligent supervision and training of truckers
- Hazardous spills
- Inadequate truck maintenance and/or inspection
- An impaired truck driver
- Defective vehicles or components
- Freight overload
- Under rides or rollovers
It can be hard to determine fault in a trucking accident. Due to death or incapacity, there may be no available witnesses. The physical devastation also makes it harder to analyze the crash’s evidence. However, a plaintiff in a trucking accident has certain evidence gathering tools at their disposal. For example:
- The trucker’s driving record and log book
- Post-accident drug-alcohol exams
- Company vehicle maintenance, payroll and insurance records
- Info from the truck’s black box, the electronic control module (ECM)
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has oversight over a company’s compliance with insurance, driver and vehicle weight regulations. A trucker is legally considered a truck company employee, a statutory employee, even though the driver may be registered as the truck’s operator or owner. In the majority of accident cases, a truck driver is acting in the course of employment — driving for the company — so the company can be held legally responsible for the driver’s actions.
Federal regulations often require the trucking companies to carry substantial insurance. For instance, trucks transporting radioactive or explosive materials are required to carry a minimum of five million dollars in liability insurance. This, along with driver employee status, makes financial recovery potentially easier for plaintiffs against the truck companies.
If you have been harmed in an accident involving a truck, consider speaking to an attorney from Thorsnes Bartolotta McGuire. We have an excellent track record fighting for the fair compensation of California trucking accident victims.