Most accidents involving commercial trucks result from human error and could have been prevented. Sometimes an investigation of a crash reveals that a trucker violated a regulation governing the trucking industry. For example, a truck driver may stay behind the wheel for longer than permitted by hours of service rules. Their excessive fatigue may contribute to a crash by slowing their reaction time and interfering with their judgment. However, the sequence of events leading to a truck accident may be complex, and some crashes have multiple causes. An investigation may uncover lapses in safety practices by drivers, trucking companies, truck manufacturers, truck maintenance companies, cargo loaders, or other industry entities.
Truck Driver Errors
Operating a commercial truck is challenging and stressful. Truckers face tight deadlines and are often paid by the mile, so they have incentives to cut corners whenever possible. A driver may speed, drive too fast for weather conditions, or respond to deadlines and other pressures with aggressive driving or road rage. Meanwhile, the loneliness and tedium of spending so many hours on the road may cause truckers to get distracted behind the wheel or abuse alcohol or drugs as an escape. Even without these issues, a truck driver may make technical errors such as braking too late or forgetting to check blind spots.
Trucking Company Errors
While the driver is often the main culprit for an accident, the trucking company that employed the driver may share the blame. The company may have hired an unqualified driver, allowed an inexperienced driver to get behind the wheel without adequate training, or failed to supervise its drivers to make sure that they were taking appropriate safety measures. Meanwhile, a trucking company may ignore a need to repair a truck or turn a blind eye to a known defect so that a truck can stay on the road.
Some truck accidents result from a defect in the truck or one of its components. This may mean that the manufacturer made a mistake in the design or manufacturing process. For example, a defective brake may prevent a truck driver from stopping in time, or a tire defect may result in a blowout that causes the driver to lose control of the truck.
Truck Maintenance Company Errors
A trucking company may arrange with a separate maintenance company to conduct maintenance on its trucks. If the maintenance company does not competently perform repairs, or overlooks an issue that should have been addressed, a malfunction may occur that causes an accident. Truck drivers and trucking companies also have responsibilities to keep vehicles off the road when they have a problem that makes them unsafe.
Cargo Loader Errors
Cargo loaders must ensure that a truck is properly loaded and that the cargo is safely secured. An overweight or overloaded truck can be challenging to operate safely. Moreover, falling cargo may strike other vehicles or cause accidents as other drivers swerve around it. Truck drivers also are required to inspect their vehicles before getting behind the wheel to make sure that they are loaded safely and in compliance with industry regulations.
Road Design or Maintenance Errors
Government entities are responsible for constructing safe roads and ensuring that they stay that way. A dangerous road with a high rate of accidents may indicate problems with road design or maintenance. Truck drivers are responsible for adjusting their speed to unsafe road conditions, but this cannot always prevent a crash.
What Caused My Accident?
All the causes of an accident may not be immediately identifiable. Truck crashes tend to be complex, and the injuries that they cause may be catastrophic. Thus, a victim should make sure to sue all the potentially at-fault parties to maximize their chances of getting full compensation. This may be hard to do without professional representation. An experienced truck accident lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation, gather many forms of evidence, and retain any experts who may be needed to prove liability.