Blind Spot Errors by Truck Drivers & Potential Legal Claims
Drivers cannot easily see vehicles, people, or objects in certain areas around them. These blind spots are much larger around commercial trucks than passenger cars. Trucks have substantial blind spots that extend 20 feet in front of them and 30 feet behind them. A blind spot on the driver’s side extends for one lane from the mirror to the middle of the trailer, while a larger blind spot on the passenger’s side extends across two lanes. Truckers cannot see vehicles that are even with the front of the cab in the lane next to the passenger side, nor can they see vehicles two lanes to the right for most of the length of the truck.
A truck driver must turn their body to check blind spots, since their mirrors do not cover these areas. Failing to check blind spots can cause serious collisions. For example, a truck changing lanes may sideswipe a car if the trucker fails to check the blind spot in the lane into which they are merging. A rear-end collision may occur when a truck driver does not see a vehicle directly in front of them and does not stop in time.
Factors that may increase the risk of blind spot errors include:
A failure to adjust truck mirrors to minimize blind spots
Inadequate or improperly installed mirrors or other safety technology
Pursuing Compensation for Accidents Caused by Blind Spot Errors
Generally, accidents in the blind spots around a truck result from errors by the truck driver. Anyone injured as a result can pursue a claim for compensation, such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Sometimes a victim also can recover damages for future losses, such as the costs of ongoing medical treatment and any reduction to their earning capacity. To get damages, they will need to show that the truck driver was negligent.
Elements of a Negligence Claim
The defendant had a duty to use reasonable care
The defendant did not use reasonable care (by doing something that a reasonable person would not do, or failing to do something that a reasonable person would do)
The failure to use reasonable care directly and foreseeably caused the accident
The victim sustained quantifiable damages
While the truck driver is usually the most obvious defendant in these cases, a victim may have a claim against the trucking company that employed the driver as well. Perhaps the trucking company hired a driver who was not qualified to operate a truck. In other cases, a trucking company might have failed to equip its vehicles with proper safety technology. If the company acted reasonably, a victim still might be able to hold it liable for the actions of an employee driver if the accident occurred while they were in the course of their job duties. This can make a huge difference because a trucking company usually has much more substantial assets and insurance than an individual driver, which can help a victim recover full compensation.
Injuries in truck accidents are often catastrophic, meaning that huge sums of money may be at stake. Trucking companies and their insurers tend to fight these cases vigorously. A victim thus should consider hiring a lawyer of their own, who can investigate the events leading to the accident, bring all the at-fault parties into the litigation, and maneuver around any procedural obstacles. Most attorneys offer free consultations to truck accident victims, at which they can explain the available legal options and the value of a potential claim. If a victim chooses to move forward, they probably will need to pay attorney fees only as a percentage of any compensation that they receive.