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To determine liability in a truck accident, the cause of the accident must first be established. Commercial truck accidents are most often caused by driver error and equipment problems, but there may also be many other contributing factors such as weather conditions, road design, or improperly loaded cargo. Depending on the circumstances of each case, the parties that may be held liable in truck accidents include truck drivers, trucking companies, freight companies, truck or equipment manufacturers, and truck repair shops.
Commercial truck drivers must adhere to the standards set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), including Hours of Service (HOS) rules, vehicle inspections and weight limits. According to the FMCSA, driver error accounts for 88 percent of crashes, and drivers of commercial trucks are 10 times more likely to be the cause of a crash than other factors such as road conditions or vehicle performance.
Drowsy driving is the most common cause of driver error in trucking accidents despite federal regulations limiting the number of hours that truckers can drive in a day. Truck drivers also often fail to adequately monitor their blind spots; cars that are in a trucker’s “no-zone” are 60 percent more likely to be involved in an accident. Other common causes of truck accidents are speeding, improperly taking a curve, or inexperience.
Drug use is another factor that may contribute to driver error. Trucking companies are responsible for testing drivers for alcohol and drug use as a condition of employment, randomly and after an accident involving a fatality. According to an FMCSA study, 44 percent of truckers involved in accidents caused by driver error were taking prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Trucking companies may be held liable for accidents in which employees were not properly screened for drug use. In accidents involving improperly loaded or overloaded cargo, freight companies that organized the shipments may be held responsible.
Equipment problems account for a large percentage of trucking accidents. Equipment may fail because of a manufacturer’s defect or improper repair. The most common mechanical cause of truck accidents is failure to properly maintain equipment. Such negligence can result in worn out tires, defective steering, transmission failure, defective lighting, or improper trailer attachment. Commercial trucks are equipped with special parts and technology not found in passenger vehicles; therefore, there are more opportunities for problems to arise.
Commercial trucks are often equipped with devices that record data that may be helpful in the wake of an accident. Investigators can analyze data from such high-tech equipment when attempting to determine liability. Also, certified truck inspectors are required by law to inspect the truck and trailer involved in the accident before they are removed from the scene. The inspector will then create and submit a report which may then be obtained from the appropriate government agency.
If you have been injured, or suffered the wrongful death of a loved one in a truck accident, contact an experienced Milford truck accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. Our knowledgeable, resourceful lawyers can help determine liability and hold negligent parties responsible. With offices conveniently located in Milford, Wilmington, and Bear, Delaware, we serve clients in both upstate and downstate Delaware. Contact us online or call us at 302-422-6705 to schedule a free consultation.