Types of Truck Driver Negligence
Truck drivers engage in many negligent acts, including:
When truck drivers suffer from fatigue, they could violate the law on the number of hours in service. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has established regulations limit the time period a truck operator can spend behind the wheel. For instance, drivers carrying cargo are limited to a maximum of 11 work hours after spending 10 consecutive hours of time off, and must take a designated amount of time for rest breaks.
Improperly loaded cargo may also be a source of truck driver negligence, as accidents are common when debris falls off the trailer and into the path of following vehicles. Other drivers may be unable to steer clear of these items, or heavy cargo could crash directly onto the windshield. Severe collisions may occur when an unsecured load shifts, causing the truck to jack-knife or overturn.
Unsecured cargo may form the basis of a negligence claim where:
- The trailer was loaded beyond legal limits
- No one inspected the truck’s stability
- The operator was speeding or driving erratically
- There were defects in the straps, belts, or other equipment used to secure the load
General Negligent Conduct
Though some laws and factors are unique to driving a truck, operators are subject to the same rules of the road as any other driver. They have the same legal duty to avoid causing a safety risk, so an operator could be liable for dangerous driving by:
- Texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel
- Unsafe lane changes
- Drinking or using drugs while driving
- Other negligent driving behaviors
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Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Claim
Like many other motor vehicle accidents, truck collisions usually happen because someone was careless or reckless while driving. Proving this negligence requires you to establish four essential elements:
All motorists have a legal obligation to drive safely, including truck operators. This duty generally requires drivers to exercise reasonable caution, so they don’t put others on the road at risk of injury.
You must show that the truck driver’s acts deviate from the legal duty of care, constituting a breach. It’s necessary to prove that another person, faced with the same circumstances, wouldn’t have acted as the operator did.
There must be a link between the truck operator’s breach of duty and the accident that led to your injuries. You satisfy the causation test by showing that the crash wouldn’t have happened but for the driver’s negligence.
You need to present evidence regarding the losses you sustained as a result of your truck accident injuries. For instance, you may sustain damages related to:
- Medical bills to treat your injuries
- Lost wages, if your injuries prevent you from working
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Losses that impact your personal relationships
- Emotional distress
- Diminished quality of life
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Challenges in a Claim for Truck Driver Negligence
With the help of a truck accident lawyer, you may be able to recover compensation for your damages. However, though the four elements described above may seem straightforward, there can be complicated legal and logistical issues, such as:
Increased Medical Bills
The sheer size and weight of a commercial truck means that devastating injuries are likely for occupants of a passenger vehicle. Head injuries, spinal cord trauma, damage to internal organs, and related injuries are expensive to treat.
There may be several individuals and companies involved in a truck accident claim, each of which may have played a role in causing the crash. Beyond the operator, negligence concepts may attach liability to:
- The driver’s employer or trucking company
- The company that trained and/or certified the driver
- The owner of the semi-truck
- Shipping and logistics companies
- Cargo loaders
Truck operators are required to carry high insurance policies to cover property damage and injury-related losses of victims in a crash. Some coverage amounts can reach into the millions, depending on the type of truck and cargo. When the stakes are high, insurance companies assign their most qualified, experienced adjusters to a claim. These employees are trained to find loopholes or reasons to avoid paying a large claim amount to accident victims.