Truck Accidents Caused by Blind Spots
Blind spots are areas around a vehicle that a driver is unable to see by looking at the rear view or side mirrors. Because of the massive size of commercial trucks, they have numerous blind spots or "no-zones." There are blind spots just in front of the truck cab, just below and behind the driver-side window, on the right side of the cab and back to the end of the trailer, and right behind the trailer. Even when a driver turns to look and check these areas, it can be impossible to see a motorcyclist or car there.
Trucks are so huge, the driver may be unable to see a driver that is immediately behind the truck. Therefore, you should avoid tailgating. Most passenger car drivers know how dangerous it is if a truck rear ends their car, but it can also be dangerous for your car to hit the back of a big truck and slide beneath it.
There are safety standards to prevent your car from getting into these so-called "underride accidents" including a rear impact guard. However, even rear guards that meet the United States standard have been shown to give way when a car is driving at a moderate speed. This type of accident can lead to catastrophic injuries or even a wrongful death.
You should also avoid staying for an unduly long periods in the blind spots along the sides of a tractor trailer. A truck driver may change lanes and cause a side impact crash. Driving in the space between a turning truck and a curb can also result in a crash. While truck drivers may be held liable for blind spot accidents, a driver that chooses to drive in a blind spot for an unnecessarily extended period or tailgate a truck may be found partially responsible for a resulting accident.
Truck Driver and Trucking Company Liability for Blind Spot Accidents
Truck drivers are required to exercise reasonable care to avoid any foreseeable risks of harm to other people. This means that they must be especially careful when they slow down, change lanes or turn. A driver injured in a truck's blind spot may be catastrophically injured. He or she can sue the truck driver for negligence and must prove (1) duty, (2) breach of duty, (3) actual and proximate causation, and (4) actual damages. In many cases, it is also appropriate to sue a trucking company that employed the driver.
A trucking company can be held responsible under a theory of vicarious liability where a driver commits a negligent act within the course and scope of his employment with the trucking company and he was driving for the employer's interests. This means a trucking company might not be vicariously liable where an off-duty truck driver fails to check his blind spot while running a personal errand in the truck. Vicarious liability is a form of indirect liability.
An employer can be directly liable where a truck driver employee is negligent if the employer knew or should have known that the truck driver should not be hired or had an employment history involving dangerous driving. For example, a trucking company that knows its employee has a drinking problem and looks the other way, could be responsible under a theory of negligent hire or negligent supervision.