Bagen Law Firm | January 30, 2023 | Truck Accidents
Trucking companies have a duty to hire and retain only skilled, experienced, and qualified drivers to operate their trucks. When a truck driver lacks the necessary qualifications and experience to operate a commercial vehicle safely and cause an accident, both the negligent truck driver and the trucking company that employs them may be responsible for all related injuries and damages.
Accidents that result from truck driver negligence can cause debilitating injuries that leave accident victims in need of ongoing medical treatment. Medical treatment bills can mount over time, and accident victims may need to miss time from away work, causing additional financial strain.
If you suffered injuries in a truck crash that an unqualified truck driver caused, you might have legal options available. In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment after your accident, you should immediately talk with an experienced truck accident attorney in your area. Your lawyer can explain your legal options clearly and help you develop a plan of action.
What Makes a Truck Driver Qualified?
Trucking companies have to retain and hire only safe and experienced drivers to operate their vehicles. Large trucks, tractor-trailers, and big rigs are incredibly massive, and it takes a particular skill set for drivers to control these vehicles safely.
First, trucking companies must ensure that their drivers comply with all continuing education requirements, including ongoing certifications and licensures. Depending upon the jurisdiction, a truck driver may also need to attend continuing education classes annually or semi-annually.
Trucking companies must also ensure that their drivers gain the necessary experience on the road. To obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), truck drivers must log numerous hours on the road, giving them the experience they need to operate their large vehicles safely. Trucking companies must also ensure that they provide their drivers with sufficient on-the-job training, helping them obtain the experience they need behind the wheel.
Finally, a truck driver must have a good driving record to remain qualified. If a driver incurs a significant number of traffic citations or moving violations, the trucking company employing them must take the necessary remedial action. This may include firing or suspending the problem driver or requiring the driver to take additional classes to remedy their driving record.
When trucking companies fail to take the necessary actions, and an unqualified truck driver causes an accident, the trucking company can share in the responsibility for the injuries and damages that an accident victim suffers.
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident that a negligent or unqualified truck driver caused, your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your accident and name all potentially responsible parties in your claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer can then help you negotiate with the insurance company and pursue the maximum monetary compensation you deserve to recover for your injuries.
Types of Accidents That Unqualified Truck Drivers Cause
When truck drivers lack the necessary training, qualifications, and experience, they may cause serious roadway accidents. Some of the most common accidents resulting from truck driver negligence and inexperience include rear-ending accidents, T-bone or broadside collisions, sideswipe accidents, and head-on crashes.
A rear-end truck accident happens when the front of a large truck hits the back of a vehicle in front. These accidents sometimes occur when truck drivers operate their vehicles too fast or fail to observe the road.
On the other hand, a T-bone or broadside accident happens when the front of a large truck hits the side of another vehicle. These accidents are common at traffic intersections where a truck driver negligently fails to yield the right-of-way to a car traveling in an adjacent direction.
Sideswipe accidents happen when the side of a large truck brushes up against the side of another vehicle while both vehicles travel in the same direction. In some instances, the force of a sideswipe crash is so severe that it forces the smaller vehicle into another travel lane or off the road entirely.
Finally, a head-on collision happens when the fronts of two vehicles strike one another while traveling in opposite directions. When these vehicles travel at high speeds, the driver and occupants of the smaller vehicle may suffer permanent injuries or fatalities.
Suppose you sustained injuries in any of these truck accidents that an unqualified truck driver caused. In that case, you should talk to an experienced truck accident attorney in your jurisdiction as soon as possible.
Your lawyer can determine if you may file a claim or a lawsuit and, if so, handle settlement negotiations. Your lawyer can also file a lawsuit and litigate your case in court if the insurance company refuses to compensate you fairly.
Negligent Actions and Inactions that Cause Truck Accidents
When truck drivers lack the necessary qualifications and experience, they may operate their vehicles in a careless and unsafe manner. Negligent truck operations can take several forms. Truck drivers sometimes operate their vehicles while distracted or under the influence of alcohol. At other times, they may violate rules of the road or state and federal motor carrier regulations. Some truck drivers operate their vehicles while fatigued, causing serious accidents.
A distracted truck driver fails to pay sufficient attention to the road. Electronic devices, such as GPS navigation systems, cellular phones, and tablets, may divert a driver’s attention away from the road. Alternatively, a driver might become distracted when they listen to loud music in the cab of their truck. When truck driver diverts their attention, even for a short time, they may not see an approaching pedestrian or vehicle, causing a serious accident.
Truck drivers must also refrain from operating their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In most jurisdictions throughout the country, passenger vehicle drivers are intoxicated when they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent.
However, the laws in most jurisdictions hold commercial truck drivers to a higher legal standard. In most cases, commercial truck drivers are legally intoxicated if they have a BAC of at least 0.04 percent.
Truck drivers who drink and drive are extremely dangerous because alcohol severely impairs a driver’s central nervous system. It may cause the driver’s vision to become blurry, preventing them from seeing other vehicles and pedestrians. Alternatively, alcohol may slow down a truck driver’s reaction time and prevent them from stopping their vehicle quickly. Alcohol may also limit a driver’s concentration and ability to focus on the road.
Negligent and unqualified truck drivers may also violate the rules of the road or state and federal motor carrier regulations. Common rules of the road that negligent truck drivers can sometimes violate include speed limit laws, right-of-way laws, and turn signal laws. They may also engage in aggressive driving maneuvers or fail to use their turn signals appropriately, causing serious accidents.
State and federal motor carrier regulations provide for truck weight limits and proper cargo loading and unloading procedures. They also prescribe methods for properly securing cargo to the truck bed. When a truck driver fails to secure cargo properly, the vehicle may become top-heavy, and its center of gravity may become offset. As a result, the truck can overturn in the middle of the road, causing a serious accident or multi-vehicle pile-up. Moreover, loose cargo may slide off the truck and into the road, causing a collision.
Unqualified truck drivers may also operate their vehicles while fatigued. Many individuals resort to drowsy driving because trucking companies offer them large financial bonuses for delivering their cargo to its final destination ahead of schedule.
As a result, many drivers will resort to stimulant drugs and other substances to keep themselves awake for hours on end. Unfortunately, these drugs sometimes cause a driver to become sleepy while behind the wheel, preventing them from safely driving their large vehicle.
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident that resulted from driver error or negligence, your lawyer can explain your legal options to you and help you file a claim or lawsuit against the responsible parties. Your lawyer can then assist you during settlement negotiations and, if necessary, with litigating your case in the court system.
Who Is Responsible for a Truck Accident?
When an unqualified truck driver causes an accident that leads to injuries, the truck driver may be primarily at fault. However, you can also assert a valid legal claim against the trucking company that employs the at-fault driver.
Your lawyer can help you ascertain all potentially responsible individuals or entities in your truck accident case and file the appropriate claim with the at-fault driver or trucking company’s insurer. Your lawyer can then assist you with every step of your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Injuries That Truck Accident Victims Suffer
When a large truck strikes a much smaller passenger vehicle, it is usually the passenger vehicle occupants who sustain the brunt of the collision. The force of a crash may cause a driver or passenger’s body to move abruptly forward and backward in their seat. It may also cause a part of their body to strike the headrest, steering wheel, door frame, window, or dashboard in their vehicle, bringing about debilitating injuries.
Some of the most common injuries that truck crash victims suffer include crush injuries, cuts, bruises, soft tissue contusions, traumatic head and brain injuries, fractures, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis.
After your truck accident, you should seek same-day medical treatment at a hospital emergency room or urgent care center as soon as possible. The provider can diagnose any injuries and provide emergency medical treatment if your situation warrants it. Finally, the provider can recommend follow-up care, depending on the nature of your injuries. For example, if your symptoms become worse, you may need to follow up with your primary care doctor, physical therapist, neurologist, or orthopedic doctor, for additional treatment.
Seeking same-day medical treatment after a truck accident Is critical. This is because injuries are not always symptomatic on the same day as a crash. In fact, it may take several days or even several weeks—for your injury symptoms to fully manifest. Seeking same-day medical treatment helps ensure that your symptoms and injuries do not worsen.
Moreover, seeking medical treatment at a hospital emergency room on the same day as your accident shows the insurance company that your injuries are serious and that you made your medical treatment a top priority after your truck collision.
While you focus all your attention on seeking the medical treatment you need, your lawyer can help you handle the legal components of your case. In addition to gathering your medical records and wage loss documentation, your attorney can obtain a copy of the police report, review eyewitness statements, and visit the accident scene, if necessary.
Once your medical treatment is complete, your attorney can submit these documents to the insurance company adjuster for review. Your lawyer can help you negotiate a settlement offer that fairly compensates you for your injuries and other accident-related damages.
Potential damages you can recover in your truck accident case include compensation for related medical bills, lost earnings, loss of earning capacity, mental distress, inconvenience, and lost quality of life.
Call a Skilled Truck Accident Lawyer to Advocate for You Today
Truck drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles safely and carefully and following all traffic laws and motor carrier regulations. Similarly, the trucking companies that employ these drivers have a duty to hire and retain only qualified drivers who will operate their vehicles carefully and safely.
When truck drivers and trucking companies behave negligently, and a serious accident results, injured accident victims may be eligible to file a claim with the appropriate insurance company.
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident that an unqualified driver caused, your lawyer can help you file a necessary claim or lawsuit and pursue the total amount of monetary damages you deserve.
If the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer refuses to compensate you fairly, your lawyer can litigate your case in the court system or take your case to a binding arbitration hearing. Your lawyer will advocate for you every step of the way and help you maximize the monetary damages you recover.