Trucking Accidents - Who is Responsible?

At Jacobs Law LLC, we regularly speak with individuals who have been involved in accidents with semi-trucks, big rigs, and other commercial vehicles. These accidents often have serious consequences for everyone involved, so it is important to understand the causes behind them.

Determining Fault in Semi-Truck and Tractor Trailer Accidents

In a presentation entitled, “Why Trucks Collide with Cars,” the U.S. Department of TransportationFederal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website reports that:

  • 55% of all accidents involving semi-trucks and tractor-trailers were primarily caused by either the truck driver or the truck itself.
  • However, in collisions involving a large truck and a single car, 56% were primarily caused by the passenger vehicle.

These statistics suggest that, when the truck driver or truck defect is to blame, the accident is more likely to involve multiple vehicles. This makes sense given the large size and immense weight of these commercial vehicles.

Let’s look into more detail around the causes of these accidents.

Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents

When the Truck Driver, Truck, or Trucking Company is at Fault

There is a lot that can go wrong when a truck weighing more than five tons is traveling at a high speed in the presence of other vehicles. The following are all common causes of truck-related accidents where the truck driver, trucking company, or the truck itself may be to blame:

  • Inadequate training (all commercial truck drivers must be properly trained and licensed)
  • Driver fatigue (falling asleep behind the wheel)
  • Speeding (either traveling over the posted limit or driving too fast for the road conditions)
  • Following too closely
  • Sudden lane changes
  • Loss of control due to driver error
  • Tire blowouts, failing brakes, engine problems, and other vehicle-related causes
  • Shifting cargo
  • Alcohol and drug use

The FMCSA categorizes these and other factors into seven “critical reasons” that are the primary causes of truck-related accidents. The most common critical reason when the truck driver is at fault? Poor decision making. The FMCSA reports that more than 40% of all accidents where a truck driver is at fault are due to speeding and aggressive driving.

When a Passenger Vehicle or its Driver is to Blame

Of course, the truck driver isn’t always to blame. Other drivers need to respect commercial vehicles’ rights on the roads and avoid putting themselves in dangerous positions. According to the FMCSA, inattention, speeding and aggressive driving account for more than half of all truck-related accidents where a car or motorcycle driver is the responsible party.

By driving safely, you can avoid unnecessary collisions and ensure that you will be entitled to compensation if you are involved in a truck-related accident.

Speak with a Truck Accident Attorney at Jacobs Law LLC

For more information about truck accident liability and what you should do if you have been involved in a collision,contact Jacobs Law LLC today by calling (317) 794-2024 or filling out our online contact form.