Attitudes Toward Truck Drivers: Are They Always to Blame for Accidents?
The trucking industry is the backbone of our nation’s economy. Every year, truck drivers transport nearly 73 percent of the nation’s essential goods to schools, hospitals, grocery stores, gas stations, and our front doorsteps. Truckers work long hours under tight restrictions. And when tractor-trailer accidents happen, injured victims often ask, “Is the truck driver always at fault?”
To a certain degree, how motorists perceive truck drivers is impacted by stereotypes that have plagued the industry for decades. Certainly, there are times when truck drivers are responsible for causing a serious wreck. But many people don’t realize that truckers face tremendous pressure from their employers to meet unreasonable delivery deadlines. When a truck company puts profits over people, both the trucker and the public suffer — and at Swenson & Shelley, we’re here to hold those companies accountable for it.
Obtaining compensation after a semi-truck accident hinges upon identifying every liable party and proving your case to an insurance company, judge, or jury. With stakes that high, you’ll benefit from getting an experienced truck accident lawyer from Swenson & Shelley on your side. Attorney Kevin Swenson is board-certified in truck accident law from the National Board of Trial Advocacy, giving our firm a deep understanding of the complexities of truck accident litigation and how to build a claim that wins.
Liability in Truck Accident Claims
Truck accident cases are not like your average car accident claim. The typical defendant after a car crash case is the driver of the vehicle that hit you. Understandably, many people make the same assumption after a tractor-trailer collision. But truck accident claims are much more complicated. To determine fault in a commercial motor vehicle case, you must look at the entire trucking industry, not just the truck driver.
Numerous failures could have led to the crash that injured you, and holding every liable party accountable could mean more money in your pocket. Potentially liable parties in a truck accident lawsuit include:
- Truck driver
- Truck owner
- Trucking company
- The truck’s manufacturer
- Auto parts makers
- Mechanics and repair shops
- Cargo owners
- Government agencies
- Other drivers
In many truck accident claims, several parties — not just the truck driver — could bear responsibility for the crash.
Example: A trucker starts their shift two hours after drinking a beer, even though the law prohibits truckers from driving within four hours of consuming alcohol. An hour down the road, the 18-wheeler collides with a sedan beside it. The truck driver could be liable for driving while intoxicated, but the trucking company could also be vicariously liable because they are responsible for an employee’s actions during work hours. Even the sedan’s driver could be partly at fault if an investigation shows they violated a traffic law that contributed to the wreck.
If you’re coping with devastating truck accident injuries, you want to be sure that every responsible party pays for their wrongdoing. A proven truck accident lawyer from Swenson & Shelley will investigate your case in-depth to ensure that you demand money from every possible source.
Common Truck Driver Violations
Truckers are just as prone to errors as any other driver. But in some cases, these mistakes involve violations of state or federal traffic regulations. When a truck driver willfully breaks a law that results in someone’s injury or death, they should pay for their actions by providing compensation to the victim or the victim’s family.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), some of the most common truck driver traffic violations include:
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
- Reckless driving, improper lane changes, and improper turns
- Failure to yield the right of way or obey traffic control devices
- Violations related to railroad grade crossings
- Failure to use a seat belt
- Operating a vehicle while occupants are not properly restrained
- Using a handheld cell phone while driving
- Texting while driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)
- Alcohol possession while on duty or in physical control of a vehicle
- Possession of narcotic drugs or amphetamines while on duty
- Failure to use flashing hazard lights
- Using or equipping a commercial vehicle with a radar detector
- Driving a CMV with unauthorized passengers on board
Even when a truck driver is clearly to blame for an accident, you should expect to encounter resistance from the insurance company during settlement negotiations. Truck accident claims are expensive, and adjusters will try many tactics to avoid making a fair payout. The attorneys at Swenson & Shelley know all their tricks and will prepare your case with those challenges in mind. Our priority is always to obtain a fair outcome for you, and we have the resources to go the distance and fight for the best possible results in your case.
When Can a Trucking Company Be Liable for a Truck Driver’s Actions?
The truck industry is heavily regulated for a reason. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. Any collision with a smaller road user — a driver, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian — can result in catastrophic harm. For this reason, truck companies are held to high standards.
Unfortunately, these businesses sometimes fall short. While motor carriers can be held vicariously liable for their drivers’ actions, they have also been found to commit willful violations that increase the likelihood of truck accidents, such as:
- Pressuring or offering incentives to drivers to violate hours-of-service regulations
- Failing to conduct background checks before hiring drivers
- Negligent training practices
- Skipping routine maintenance and truck repairs
At Swenson & Shelley, our legal team will dive deep to identify whether a trucking company’s recklessness caused your injuries.
Get Help from an Experienced Utah Truck Accident Attorney
The attorneys at Swenson & Shelley know that most truck drivers are not bad people. But sometimes good people make poor choices. Regardless of the circumstances, our experienced truck accident attorneys are dedicated to holding at-fault parties responsible for harming others. If you’ve been hurt in a truck accident that wasn’t your fault, call or contact our firm today for a free consultation with a trusted Utah truck accident attorney.
We are often asked if we hate truck drivers. Watch this video to learn about our attitude towards truck drivers. Then call our Utah attorneys.