Being involved in a truck accident is traumatic. The injuries sustained by those in the smaller passenger vehicle are often severe, even catastrophic, or deadly. After all, a fully-loaded commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle weighs between 3,000 and 3,500 pounds. That’s a significant difference when the truck collides with a smaller car.
When a large commercial truck hits you, your life may change forever. You must try to recover from your injuries while unable to work. During this time, creditors may come circling, looking for mortgage or rent payments that you cannot afford without a steady paycheck. Even worse, you may have lasting physical pain and emotional trauma. These damages can prevent you from returning to your everyday life.
Truck accidents are unique in another way as well. In the case of a car-to-car accident, when another driver’s negligence results in a collision, you can seek recovery only from the at-fault driver’s insurance. However, if a commercial truck driver hits you, there can easily be more than one liable party. In fact, there may be up to five responsible parties, which is why you must have a strong, experienced truck accident attorney.
Who is To Blame After a Montana Truck Accident?
There are many possible causes of truck accidents, and it can be challenging to determine who is at fault. After a truck accident, you must speak with an experienced Montana truck accident attorney who can help you investigate the cause of the accident and identify the responsible parties.
There are many federal and state regulations that apply to trucking companies and their drivers, and these regulations can be complex. An experienced attorney will thoroughly understand these regulations and know how to use them to your advantage.
The potentially liable parties include:
The Truck Driver
The truck driver could have caused the accident as a result of any of the following:
- Distracted Driving. Distracted driving behaviors are the same for truck drivers as for all drivers. Distractions include:
- Talking on a cellphone
- Sending a text message
- Reading GPS directions
- Eating a meal
- Talking to another passenger
- Looking at something by the side of the road
- Fatigued Driving. Truck drivers only get paid when they’re behind the wheel. As a result, drowsy driving is common. While regulations govern how long a truck driver can drive at a time, truck drivers may feel pressure to exceed these hours and deliver loads quickly. In addition, truck drivers often do not get high-quality sleep, even when they do sleep, as they could be sleeping in narrow truck berths or unfamiliar motel beds. This leads to even more drowsy driving and severe accidents.
- Impaired Driving. Impaired driving could result from prescription medications, illegal drugs, or alcohol impairment. It is never safe to drive impaired, no matter what vehicle you operate. Truck drivers face unique challenges, as their vehicles are much larger and heavier than cars. Driving under the influence can make it more difficult to control the truck and increase the risk of serious accidents.
- Reckless Driving. Careless or reckless driving includes:
- Following too closely
- Changing lanes irresponsibly
- Neglecting to double-check for smaller vehicles when changing lanes, merging, or making a turn.
- Running stop signs or stop lights
- Road rage
The Trucking Company
The trucking company might bear liability or share the blame for the accident if any of the following occurred:
- Failed to complete a comprehensive background check on the driver
- Failed to require a thorough physical examination before putting a truck driver on the road
- Neglected to ensure the truck driver had the proper training and experience necessary to drive a truck
- Looked the other way when a driver exceeded the allowable hours of service in the interest of getting their loads delivered quickly
The Maintenance Company
The maintenance company could be responsible or partially responsible for the accident if they:
- Failed to keep the truck properly maintained, particularly the tires and the brakes. Although faulty tires and brakes factor into many truck accidents, they are also the primary cause of accidents. Mechanical failure is, in large part, preventable. Trucking companies have a duty of care to keep trucks well-maintained.
- If the trucking company failed to maintain the truck, it could be responsible, or if the maintenance company did a shoddy job of maintenance, it might be responsible. According to FMCSA regulations, inspection, repair, and maintenance must be part of a regular or scheduled program to keep vehicles safely operating.
The Loading or Shipping Company
The cargo loading company could face liability for a truck accident if they failed to load or secure the cargo inside the commercial truck correctly. Improperly secured cargo can shift during transit, leading to severe accidents, including rollovers and jackknifed trucks. Moving cargo or off-balance loads can cause commercial truck drivers to lose control of their vehicles and move into oncoming traffic. Load shifting is almost always preventable when the loads are appropriately secured.
A shipping company may also be liable for negligently hiring a trucking company who is unqualified to ship the load.
A defective truck part may have caused the accident. If this is the case, then the truck or truck part manufacturer may bear some liability for the accident. This would fall under a product liability claim. Defective trucking components include faulty tires, braking systems, and steering components.
An experienced truck accident attorney can determine which parties are liable for the accident, then determine what you are entitled to receive for damages.
Contact Our Helena Truck Accident Lawyers
If you or someone you love suffered an injury in a truck accident, we can help. Our team of experienced Helena truck accident lawyers will go to work immediately to find who is to blame for your accident and injuries. We leave no stone unturned as we investigate these catastrophic cases.
At Doubek, Pyfer & Storrar, we will work tirelessly to obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries and damages. To learn more about your legal options, you can fill out a contact form on our website, and we can contact you.
John Doubek and the lawyers at Doubek, Pyfer & Storrar, PLLP have legal experience in auto crashes, defective products, medical negligence, work accidents, wrongful death, insurance bad faith, business disputes, and Securities and Exchange matters.