Common Causes of Truck Accidents

March 5, 2024 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
Common Causes of Truck Accidents

In recent years, there have been over 150,000 injuries in accidents involving large trucks. Given the disparity in size between the large truck and the much smaller passenger car, the injuries suffered can be severe, recently causing over 4,700 truck accident fatalities. Most of the people killed were passenger car drivers and the occupants of their vehicles.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a truck accident, the trucking company may owe you a substantial sum based on the severity of your injuries. You have a legal right to compensation when you can show that someone was negligent. Most often, the responsible parties are the trucking companies (since they are liable for what their drivers do during their employment). First, you must file either a claim against their insurance policy or a lawsuit against them in court. An experienced Dallas truck accident lawyer can investigate your truck accident and develop the proof you need to show liability.

Often, the real fight comes when you are talking dollars and cents, and it can be challenging to get on the same page with the insurance company. Your lawyer is a dedicated and tenacious fighter who will work for you to get the money you need and deserve. You must reach out to an experienced truck accident lawyer to begin the process of seeking compensation for your injuries.

Several things cause truck accidents, including:

  • Driver error or willful failure to follow the law
  • Improper maintenance and inspections
  • Defective truck parts
  • Third-party negligence

In the meantime, here is what you should know about some of the causes of truck accidents.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

Drivers are the most common cause of truck accidents. The people who drive tractor-trailers must always remain alert and effective, and given the truck's size, even a tiny error can cause a catastrophic accident. Here is how truck drivers can cause accidents.

Fatigued Driving

Truck Driver Fatigue

Federal regulations limit truck drivers' time behind the wheel. There are restrictions on the number of hours in one shift and the hours they may drive weekly, and they are required to take breaks at specific intervals.

Truck drivers are under pressure to deliver on time at the cost of their jobs, causing them to break the hours of service rules to avoid lateness. They may drive late at night to maximize the time they can travel during their shift.

Tired truck drivers are even more prone to make errors. Their reflexes may be a split second slower, and they cannot respond to challenges on the road as quickly. One influential survey found that fatigued driving was a factor in 13 percent of fatal truck crashes.

Distracted Driving

Common Causes of Truck Accident I Distracted Driving

Truck drivers spend long periods behind the wheel, and if they have to pull over, it may count against the time remaining in their shift and slow their progress. Thus, the driver may not want to stop to take care of something else, and they may try to "multitask."

The most common distraction a truck driver may have is talking or texting on their device while driving; much can happen in seconds when they take their eyes off the road. They may miss their prompt to stop the truck and rear-end the vehicle in front of them, or they may not see a change in road conditions and make a late oversteer to correct themselves.

Drivers may also do things like eating, which takes one or both hands off the steering wheel. The ideal practice is for the driver to pull over if they have anything less than 100 percent focus on the road.


Common Causes of Truck Accident I Speed

Truck drivers may speed for several reasons, almost all having to do with time. They may want to end their shift sooner, having progressed their target amount of distance. Alternatively, they may want to maximize the distance they travel in the time allotted under hours of service rules.

When a truck driver speeds, their reflexes will be slower, and they will have less time to respond to challenges in front of them. They may react too quickly and then cause a jackknife or rollover accident.

While there is every reason a truck driver should not exceed the speed limit, roughly 7 percent of fatal truck accidents involve excessive speed. Truck drivers need to give themselves more time to react and enough time to follow the distance between them and the car in front, but speeding takes away those abilities.

Impaired Driving

Many people think that impaired driving means that the truck driver is under the influence of alcohol, but drunk driving is only one example. Given the increasing legality of marijuana, more drivers are now high behind the wheel. Impaired driving can also mean taking prescription medications that can make the driver drowsy.

Suppose the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of an accident. In that case, it can result in significant liability for the trucking companies, which were supposed to conduct random drug and alcohol tests. They must test for drugs and alcohol under most circumstances if there is an injury to another driver and must test under all circumstances if someone died in the crash.

Although it should go without saying that a truck driver should never drive while impaired behind the wheel, this is a factor in roughly 5 percent of truck accidents.

Mistakes Due to Inexperience

It often takes years for a truck driver to truly learn how to drive safely and handle any challenges from the road. There are far fewer experienced truck drivers today than in the past, and many professional truck drivers have either retired or left the field. Younger drivers are replacing them, and trucking companies are paying them less.

One of the most common errors a rookie driver can make is steering their vehicle. They may over or understeer their truck, leading to a jackknife or rollover accident.

Inexperienced truck drivers may also struggle to stay in their lanes. They have difficulty checking their blindspots (which are many on a truck), particularly when changing lanes.

Even experienced drivers can make mistakes on the road and make errors in judgment. All it takes is a momentary lapse to cause a significant accident.

The truck must be in roadworthy condition before the driver can take it on the road, and at the beginning of each shift, they must inspect the vehicle. Even if the driver performs this inspection, it may not be enough to reveal maintenance issues that can cause an accident.

Trucking companies may cut corners in any way they can to boost their profits and may want to avoid taking trucks off the road because they make less money. They are losing sight of the bigger picture: an accident caused by poor maintenance can put them out of business.

Brake Failures

When traveling 55 miles per hour, it can take up to a tenth of a mile to bring the truck to a complete stop. Even a minor defect in the brakes can be hazardous. The truck driver may rear-end the car in front of them, or the driver can lose control of their vehicle.

Tire Failures

All it takes is one of the eighteen wheels on the truck to malfunction and cause a severe accident. Most drivers cannot control a vehicle when a tire blows out when driving. Tires can be costly, and trucking companies do not like replacing them, even when necessary.

Environmental Factors

Common Causes of Truck Accident I Environmental Factors

Weather conditions can cause an accident. Drivers may not want to take time off during adverse weather conditions so they can still make the deliveries. Snow and ice make the roads hazardous and slippery. Ideally, the driver should stay in when the roads are slick because they cannot avoid responsibility for a crash by blaming it on the icy roads. They should have made better choices.

Poor Road Conditions

Then, poor conditions on the road itself may have caused the crash. The government must maintain the road and cannot ignore a dangerous condition about which it knew or should have known. In that case, you can also sue the government for the accident.

Construction Zone Accidents

All drivers should slow down when approaching a work zone. Even if a truck driver acts out of an abundance of caution, the conditions in the work zone can cause increased danger. There can be poorly designed signs as drivers approach the area, or the contractor may have left debris in the roadway. The contractor or engineers can be liable for work zone accidents.

Third-Party Errors

The trucking companies may try to outsource various functions to third parties. For example, they may want to avoid investing in maintenance employees, so they will retain a third-party contractor to inspect and maintain the trucks and enlist a third-party cargo loader.

If these companies were negligent, you can also sue them in a lawsuit. As much as the trucking companies may want to point the finger at someone else, they can also be legally responsible for who they determine to hire and allow to work on their trucks.

Defective Truck Parts

Causes of Truck Accidents I Defective Truck Parts

A tire blowout may not be the trucking company's fault. The tire manufacturer can be responsible for the accident; the same goes for brakes and steering if the truck parts are defective. You can sue anyone who was involved in either manufacturing or selling the truck or truck part when you can prove one of the following:

  • There was a defect in the design that rendered it unreasonably dangerous
  • There was a manufacturing defect that left the product unreasonably dangerous for its intended use
  • The manufacturer failed to warn you of a problem that they knew or should have known about
  • The manufacturer was negligent in designing or manufacturing the product
  • The manufacturer violated one of several implied warranties

You will need expert witnesses and corporate documents to prove a product liability case. These cases are often part of mass tort lawsuits because the same defective truck parts may have also impacted other drivers.

Your Truck Accident Lawyer Investigates The Cause of Your Crash

You must learn the cause of the truck accident so you know how to seek financial compensation for your injuries. Your attorney must present evidence that someone else was to blame for you to receive damages for your injuries. You must hire an experienced attorney as soon as possible after the accident so they can get to work with their investigation. If not, you may lose key evidence to prove your case.

Once you know the cause of your accident and have the evidence to prove it, your attorney will file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf. After you have proven liability, your attorney will work on securing adequate compensation for your injuries. You can negotiate a settlement agreement that fully and fairly pays for your injuries. If not, an attorney will litigate the case in court on your behalf. If your lawyer has uncovered evidence of gross negligence or systemic violations of the law, the jury may even award you punitive damages.

Why You Should Never Wait to Consult a Truck Accident Attorney

You are likely stressed out and focusing on your injuries after a truck crash. But there are two important reasons why you should never put off contacting a truck accident lawyer.

Truck Accident Lawyer, Michael Francis

First, most of the evidence you will need to prove your case is likely in the hands of the trucking company. The company will have the truck itself, the truck’s black box, any dashcam footage, hours of service records, employment records, and other documentation. If any evidence shows liability for the accident, there is a chance it can disappear before you ask for it. When you hire a truck accident lawyer, they can demand that the trucking company preserves all possible evidence immediately.

Second, you cannot miss the statute of limitations for your state. This time limit varies, so never wait to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney near you.