15 Jul What Happens When A Truck Driver Has An Accident?
No one thinks about what happens after a truck accident until it happens to them. When it does, it’s often a surreal and overwhelming experience.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a truck accident, it’s important to know what happens next.
Truck accidents are often much more complicated than other types of accidents, and the liable party may be much more difficult to identify.
This blog post will explore the different steps that happen after a truck accident, from the first responders on the scene to the investigation process.
How common are truck accidents?
Truck accidents, unfortunately, are on the rise. On average, 5,005 people are killed each year in accidents involving large trucks.
According to the statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities in crashes involving at least one big truck went up by 13 percent in 2021 compared to 2020.
Here are some more numbers related to truck accidents:
- 74 percent of all fatal vehicle accidents involve a large truck
- Annually, 130,000 individuals suffer from injuries related to a truck accident.
- Truck accidents are typically more severe than accidents that involve motor vehicles or motorcycles.
So what are some of the top reasons for large truck accidents?
What causes truck accidents?
Truck accidents can have a number of causes, from driver fatigue to mechanical problems. Knowing the top causes of truck accidents can help you avoid them in the future.
Determining the cause is also important when it comes to recovering damages related to personal injuries or property damage from the relevant insurance company or the negligent driver.
Given the complex nature of truck accidents, it can be difficult to identify a single cause behind the accident many times. However, these are the well-known reasons for truck accidents.
Tire defects -Tire defects account for one-third of large truck accidents. A tire blowout can lead to the truck driver losing control of the truck, which tends to pull toward the blown-out tire’s side. The sudden change in direction impacts the ability of the driver to maneuver the vehicle safely.
Tire blowouts can occur due to many reasons including:
- improper tire installation
- manufacturing defect
- mismatch of tires
- worn out tires
- improper tire inflation
- driver error
- lack of maintenance and inspection
Other mechanical issues – In addition to bad tires, mechanical issues such as brake problems, engine failure, and steering issues are the other causes behind truck accidents.
Distracted driving – Distracted driving is any activity that diverts the driver’s attention. These include talking or texting, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, fiddling with the stereo, and more. Per the NHTSA, 16 percent of vehicle accidents were caused by distracted driving.
Driver fatigue –Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents. According to the CDC, one out of 25 drivers fall asleep while driving. Apart from working irregular shifts, driver fatigue and drowsiness can be due to a medical condition, certain medications, or lack of sleep.
Driving under the influence- DUI-related violations, according to FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) data, went up by 40 percent in 2020. At least 30 percent of motor vehicle crash fatalities involved one alcohol-impaired driver in 2020.
Speeding –Over the years, studies show that speeding is one of the top causes of motor vehicle accidents, accounting for 30 percent of vehicle accident fatalities.
Weather conditions –Adverse weather conditions can include strong winds, ice, fog, and snow that can lead to slippery roads and poor lighting. Drivers who fail to drive cautiously during such conditions can be held liable for the accident.
Other causes of truck accidents can include:
- Hazardous road conditions
- Aggressive or reckless driving
- Unfamiliarity with the roadway
- Prescription drug use
- Indirect causes (including negligent driving by the other driver involved in the crash)
Regardless of the reason, it is important to know what happens when a truck driver has an accident and the steps to take to optimize your safety.
What happens when a truck driver has an accident?
If you or someone you know is involved in a truck accident, there are certain steps you should take to ensure everyone’s safety and minimize damage.
Ensure safety: First, if possible, move your truck to the side of the road. This will help to clear the road and make it easier for emergency vehicles to get to the scene. Next, call 911 and wait for help to arrive.
If you’re not able to move your truck, or if it’s unsafe to do so, turn on your hazard lights and wait for help to arrive. If you can, move yourself and any passengers to a safe location away from the truck. Once again, call 911 and wait for assistance.
Seek medical care: Even if your injuries appear to be minor, accept medical care from first responders. Severe injuries may need emergency room care. Some symptoms such as traumatic brain injury or PTSD can take weeks to appear. When symptoms appear, document them and seek medical care.
Stay calm: No matter what the extent of the damage, it’s important to stay calm and follow these steps. By remaining calm, you’ll be able to think more clearly and take the necessary steps to ensure everyone’s safety.
Exchange essential information: It is important to collect and exchange information with the other driver/parties involved in the truck accident. This will help your insurance company or the Yuba City truck accident attorney track down any parties should the need arise.
Make sure to get the following information from anyone else involved in the accident:
- the driver’s name, email address, address, and phone number
- Driver’s license number
- the trucking company’s name and contact information
- Insurance information
Document the accident: Documenting the accident is important for a number of reasons. As a truck driver, you are required to follow certain regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). One of these regulations is to document any accidents that occur during the course of your work.
Documenting an accident can also help to improve the insurance claims process and can protect you from potential lawsuits.
It helps to ensure that the company you work for is held liable for any damages that occur. Additionally, it provides a record of what happened in the event that there is an insurance claim.
Documenting the accident also allows you to take control of the situation and helps you provide your own account of what happened. This can be valuable if there are conflicting accounts of the accident.
Finally, documenting the accident helps to ensure that the relevant party takes responsibility for its role in the accident whether it is the negligent driver or the trucking company.
The best way of documenting the accident is to use your phone to take pictures of the accident scene and any damage to your truck. If possible, take pictures of any injuries you have sustained.
Find witnesses: One of the most important things you can do is to find witnesses who can testify about what they saw. This can be critical in proving your claim and getting the compensation you deserve.
Unfortunately, finding witnesses can sometimes be difficult. The best place to start is by asking any potential witnesses near the accident scene if they saw what happened. If you do find witnesses, take down their names and contact information.
If you can’t find anyone who saw the accident, you may need to look for other evidence, such as video footage from security cameras or dash cameras.
Try reaching out to local businesses or religious organizations. These groups often have members who live in the community and may have seen the accident.
Investigation: Post the accident, investigations into the causes and the extent of damage will be conducted by the police, the trucking company, and the insurance company.
The investigators will talk to the truck driver and any witnesses to get their account of what happened. Based on all of this information, the investigators will determine who was at fault for the accident. If you are employed with a trucking company as a truck driver, you may also need to fill out an accident report containing information about the truck accident.
However, the goal of the insurance company and the trucking company is primarily to limit their liability and financial exposure.
If the truck accident involves multiple fatalities or is very severe, the NTSB ( National Transportation Safety Board) may also send a team of investigators who will check the following:
- the log book of the driver
- truck maintenance reports
- the work schedule of the driver
- overloading if any
- the circumstances that led to the accident
Drug test: If a truck driver is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, Federal laws mandate that they be tested immediately. A drug test is also required if one or multiple fatalities occur in the accident.
Drug testing is also required if a person involved in the truck accident sustains bodily injury or when a vehicle is severely damaged.
Determining who caused the truck accident
When a truck accident occurs, it is important to determine who is responsible for the accident. In most cases, it is either the truck driver or the trucking company. However, there are other factors that can contribute to a truck accident, such as mechanical problems with the truck, bad weather, or even road conditions.
In order to determine who is responsible for a truck accident, it is important to look at all of the evidence. This includes the police report, witness statements, and any other relevant information. Once all of the evidence has been gathered, it can be used to determine who is responsible for the accident.
In the state of California, the court will use a system of comparative fault to determine how to apportion the damages. This system can be used when both parties are at fault, or when one party is found to be more at fault than the other.
Under the comparative fault system, the court will first assess the damages incurred by the plaintiff. They will then look at the percentage of fault attributable to each party and reduce the damages accordingly. For example, if the plaintiff is found to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, their damages will be reduced by 20 percent.
The truck company’s liability
The truck company is legally required to ensure they follow appropriate hiring and driver training practices. They also are required to properly maintain the truck and adhere to safety standards. This includes conducting regular maintenance checks and ensuring repairs are carried out in time.
If the company fails to follow these best practices of conducting regular maintenance and driver training, it may be held liable for the truck accident.
Can truck drivers be held liable for the accident?
Typically, a truck driver is not financially liable if they are employed with a trucking company when the accident occurred.
The liability will generally be with the trucking company, even if the driver is found to be at fault. However, in these cases, the driver might be liable for the damages:
- The truck driver is not employed by the trucking company but is an independent contractor with their own insurance.
- The driver used the truck for reasons other than the scope of employment.
- The truck driver made negligent choices including speeding excessively, being careless or distracted or driving under the influence.
- The driver of the truck is also the owner of the trucking company.
Liability of third parties
Many commercial truck companies outsource maintenance and repair services. These include wheel assembly, wheel refurbishing, rim installation, tire inflation, and other services.
If the maintenance company is found to be negligent such as providing a defective tire, mismatching the tires, or not training its maintenance personnel, it can be held liable for the financial damages.
A liability lawsuit can also be initiated against the tire manufacturer if there are manufacturing defects in the tires or other components of the truck.
The importance of getting expert legal help after a truck accident
After a truck accident, the importance of getting expert legal help as soon as possible cannot be emphasized more.
Trucking and insurance companies have teams of lawyers and investigators who will start working immediately to build their cases and minimize their liability. If you wait to get legal help, you could end up with a disadvantage.
At the Law Offices of Steve Gimblin, our experienced truck accident lawyers will help you level the playing field by gathering evidence, talking to witnesses, and working to protect your rights.
From offering a free personal injury case evaluation to a ‘no win, no fee’ guarantee, our Yuba City truck accident lawyers are skilled at ensuring you recover the compensation you deserve.
Our experienced truck accident lawyer knows how to navigate the complex legal landscape in case of personal injury litigation.
Don’t wait to get help – the sooner you speak with us, the better.