You Were Hit by an 18-Wheeler—but Who is to Blame???

It’s one of the scariest things that can happen on the road—being hit by a large tractor-trailer truck. The sheer size and weight of semi-trucks make them more dangerous than almost any other vehicle, and accidents involving them frequently leave drivers with devastating injuries and crazy vehicle damage.

Once you’ve been treated for any injuries you may have sustained in the crash and you begin the process of having your vehicle repaired/replaced and moving past this incredibly difficult situation, you’re likely to get mad as hell and wonder who is ultimately responsible for all of the pain, suffering, and bureaucratic headaches you’re having to deal with. While your knee-jerk reaction might be to blame the truck driver, there are actually a number of parties who could be to blame for your present situation.

Maybe It IS the Driver

OK so yes, in many situations, the driver of an 18-wheeler is ultimately responsible for an accident. Even the slightest error or lapse in judgment behind the wheel of such a powerful vehicle can cause devastating accidents, with some of the most common causes including:

  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Drowsy driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Reckless driving

The same things that can cause the driver of a passenger vehicle to cause an accident can cause a semi-truck driver to cause an accident. If you were injured in an accident caused by any of the above factors, it’s likely that the driver of the truck that hit you will hold responsibility for the accident.

Their Boss

Sure, any driver can cause an accident behind the wheel. However, this doesn’t always make a driver responsible for a specific accident. How is this possible? There are certain responsibilities that trucking companies have to their employees, and everyone else on the road, and when they violate these responsibilities, they can be held liable for the consequences of their action or inaction. Some of these responsibilities include:

  • Hiring qualified drivers
  • Properly training drivers
  • Properly repairing and maintaining the vehicles in their fleet
  • Ensuring their drivers adhere to size and weight restrictions
  • Ensuring their drivers adhere to hours of service restrictions

Should a trucking company owner fail to adhere to any of the above, they could be held liable for a resulting truck accident.

Vehicle Manufacturers

Just like passenger cars, companies that manufacture large commercial trucks and their component parts have a huge responsibility to produce products that are safe and reliable. When they fail at this seemingly simple task, the result can be a vehicle that is dangerous and uncontrollable by even the most experienced and responsible driver.

While any defective or malfunctioning vehicle part can cause or contribute to an accident, some of the most dangerous include accidents caused by:

  • Brake defects
  • Trailer hitches
  • Tire defects
  • Steering defects

If it can be shown that the root cause of your accident was a defect or malfunction with a truck itself, you may be able to pursue compensation from the company responsible for manufacturing the vehicle or the part(s) that failed.

Cargo Loaders

The driver of an 18-wheeler may not be the person who loads cargo into the trailer or onto the bed that is being hauled, especially in larger companies. Loaded trailers weigh thousands of pounds and if not loaded properly, it can make it impossible for even the most experienced driver to properly manage a given load.

This is especially true in situations in which load limits are exceeded. Truckers have to have special permission and permits to exceed the standard weight restrictions on vehicles. Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for companies to attempt to haul more goods in one trip by overloading. This can result in vehicles that are unwieldy and impossible to control because they are too heavy and/or the excessive weight is improperly distributed.

There are lots of parties who can contribute to a devastating car accident involving an 18-wheeler. Regardless of who caused your accident, you deserve an experienced, aggressive attorney from Chenkin Law Firm on your side fighting to see that your rights as a victim are upheld. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident with an 18-wheeler truck, call us today at (800) 721-7472 for the help you need.

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