Although collisions are often called “accidents,” the truth is that there is usually someone to blame for the crash. In the case of truck crashes, the two drivers involved in the collision are not the only potential parties who could be at fault. The commercial carrier that owns the truck or runs the trucking company can be held liable if the company was negligent in its duties and placed other road users at risk.
The Many Forms of Trucking Company Negligence
Commercial trucking companies are responsible for hiring drivers, adhering to safety standards and practices, and maintaining their fleet of vehicles. Since the company directly profits from its drivers and vehicles, they have a high duty of care when it comes to protecting other drivers on the road. Unfortunately, many trucking companies are more concerned with maximizing their profits than road safety, opting to cut corners to reduce their costs.
There are many different kinds of trucking company negligence that are directly responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths every year, including:
- Lax hiring practices. Trucking companies need several hundred drivers to cover all shifts. Although there are strict guidelines dictating driver qualifications and certifications, some companies will hire unqualified drivers in order to meet demands. Untrained drivers do not know how to operate and maneuver fully-loaded trailers, placing themselves and the people around them at risk. Other negligence during the hiring process may include failing to conduct adequate background checks, hiring drivers with known traffic violations, or hiring drivers with points on their licenses or expired commercial driving licenses.
- Breaking hours of service laws. Due to the large number of accidents caused by drowsy driving, the federal government has set regulations to control how many hours a truck driver may spend behind the wheel. Trucking hours of service laws outline how long a driver may be on the clock, when he or she must take a break, and when and how long he or she must rest before driving another shift. However, these regulations can lengthen delivery times, cutting into a trucking company’s profits. Although it is illegal, commercial trucking companies may pressure a driver to continue working through rest and sleep breaks, and even encourage them to change the records in their logbooks to hide the violations.
- Lax maintenance. Nearly a quarter of all truck accidents involve some kind of equipment breakdown. All parts of a rig or trailer have the potential to fail, but the most problematic components include brakes, tires, and electrical systems. Trucking companies are required to perform regular maintenance on their vehicles, including submitting to regular safety inspections, repairing any components that are malfunctioning or worn, and retiring vehicles that no longer meet safety standards.
- Loading errors. Trucks must be loaded in a certain way so they maintain proper balance throughout the journey. An unbalanced trailer can cause the truck to roll over in a tight turn or drift into another lane. If the cargo is not secured properly, items may fall into the road or strike other cars at highway speeds—while trucks transporting hazardous materials can cause explosions or fires. Even if commercial trucking companies rely on third parties to load and unload their vehicles, they may be held responsible for any injuries caused by improper loading.
When a trucking company engages in negligent behavior, it is the drivers and passengers in smaller cars who often pay the price. If you have been injured in a truck crash, our attorneys can examine the facts of your case and determine if the trucking company could be held liable for your medical bills, lost income, permanent disability, or wrongful death in the family. Contact GriffithLaw today for an evaluation of your case at no cost to you, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.