Who’s to Blame in the Majority of Truck Accidents?
Posted in Truck Accidents on February 26, 2018
Truck accidents are often violent, catastrophic events. The immense size and weight of commercial trucks make them more dangerous to drivers than typical passenger vehicles. In a collision with a large truck, drivers and occupants in smaller vehicles can sustain serious, disabling, and life-threatening injuries. Truck drivers can also suffer serious injuries. Knowing who is at fault for the majority of truck accidents in Tennessee can help you understand your rights and the possibilities of a lawsuit after suffering injuries in such a crash.
The Trucking Company
There was a time when trucking companies could evade liability for accidents involving their trucks and drivers. They did this by leasing their trucks from other companies and hiring independent contractors instead of traditional employees. This way, the company that owned the truck was to blame if the truck had an issue and the driver was to blame if he or she caused the accident. Today, however, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) holds trucking companies liable for accidents involving their drivers and equipment regardless of ownership or employment status.
A truck company could be legally to blame for a collision if it or its driver was negligent in contributing to the accident. For example, if a truck company skipped driver training to get the driver on the road faster, or if it failed to conduct a background check before putting a driver on a route. The truck company could also be liable for the actions of the driver. If a driver was texting behind the wheel and caused a crash, for example, the company could be vicariously to blame. There are many circumstances in which injured parties (including truck drivers) could bring a claim against a truck company.
Passenger Vehicle Drivers
There are many misconceptions surrounding truck accident liability. For example, many drivers assume the trucker, or the company, will automatically be at fault, considering the accident involves a commercial vehicle with higher duties and standards of care. This is not the case. In fact, some data show that passenger vehicle driver factors caused 81% of truck crashes, compared to 37% of truck driver factors (the total is more than 100% due to 10% assigned to both drivers). Thus, statistically, it would appear that passenger vehicle drivers are to blame for the majority of trucking accidents.
However, one must take this data with a grain of salt. These statistics might not be entirely reliable, as they come from the American Trucking Associations (ATA). Since it’s from the ATA, the odds are high that they would sway in the trucking industry’s favor. Even if a driver is partially to blame for a truck accident, Tennessee’s modified comparative fault law means he or she could still be eligible for compensation as long as the degree of fault is at or below 50%. Do not assume you do not qualify for compensation if you caused or contributed to a trucking accident.
Another party often acting as a defendant in Nashville truck accident claims is a product manufacturer. If a truck or other vehicle part malfunctioned and caused a crash, the manufacturer could be to blame. For example, if a large truck’s brakes gave out when going downhill, causing the truck to careen out of control and fatally rear-end another driver, the manufacturer of the defective brakes could be liable. In many cases, more than one party shares fault for a truck accident, such as a product manufacturer and the truck company.
Determining Fault for a Truck Accident
No matter what the statistics say, you cannot determine fault for your accident until you investigate your unique case. An attorney can help you identify the cause of the crash and all parties potentially responsible. It could be a trucking company, product manufacturer, the city of Nashville, or a combination of defendants. As a truck driver or passenger vehicle driver, you have the right to speak to a lawyer and ask who the law could hold accountable for your recent accident and injuries.