What’s the Most Common Cause of Commercial Truck Accidents?
Calling crashes involving tractor trailer trucks accidents is a bit misleading since the vast majority of commercial truck accidents in North Carolina are completely avoidable. These horrific crashes are often the result of negligent actions, either by the truck driver, the trucking company, or a combination of the two.
Here are some of the most common causes of tractor-trailer accidents:
Failed Maintenance: Transport trucks are massive, complex machines that require regular maintenance in order to keep all the safety systems in good working order. Because this maintenance is both time-consuming and costly, some trucking companies try to save money by skipping out on the required maintenance, using parts that are worn out, or failing to replace worn-out tires, brakes, and other safety-critical equipment.
Driver Fatigue: Commercial truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel, often travelling up and down the same highway for days or weeks on end. This can lead to passivity behind the wheel, making the driver less aware of their surroundings and contributing to distracted driving. When added to the fact that most drivers are compensated on a per-mile basis, it’s tempting for drivers to skip out on their legally-mandated rest brakes so they can get their load delivered as quickly as possible.
There are now strict Hours of Service rules in place to help combat the deadly effects of driver fatigue. In spite of these rules, many truck drivers take their chances and drive more than they should, and this gamble often is the cause of crashes involving commercial trucks.
Excess Speed: The commercial trucking industry is highly competitive and time-sensitive, and the faster a trucking company can deliver a load, the more profit they stand to make on the job. While many truck drivers respect the rules of the road and abide by the state-set speed limits, when truckers choose to speed, the results can be devastating.
Commercial trucks simply can’t stop as quickly as other vehicles can, and this is especially true when they are driving too fast. In many situations where a truck has rolled over, blown through a stop sign or crashed into traffic ahead, the driver was either going at a speed that exceeded the posted limit or driving too fast for the current road conditions.
Drunk and Drugged Driving: While it’s hard to imagine what would make a commercial truck driver get behind the wheel of an 80,000 lb transport truck after they have been drinking alcohol or while impaired by drugs, the unfortunate reality is that many accidents involving transport trucks and tractor-trailer rigs are caused by impaired drivers. In North Carolina, commercial truck drivers cannot have any more than .04 percent blood alcohol concentration while on the job, and no level of drug impairment is allowed.
Improper Loading: Transport truck loads need to be secured in a very specific way to keep the load from flying off the truck or shifting, which can cause the driver to suddenly lose control while on the road. Drivers are responsible for ensuring that their load is safe and loaded correctly, because when it isn’t, innocent drivers can get hurt.
Hiring or Employing an Unqualified Driver: Commercial trucking companies are legally obligated to make sure that every one of their truckers is qualified to operate their equipment. This means trucking companies have to confirm that their drivers all have a valid commercial driver license and that they have not been charged with any offense that would render their license invalid. If a truck company fails to do their due diligence when hiring and managing drivers, victims of a crash involving that truck company can collect compensation.
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Where Does the Compensation for Truck Accident Victims Come From?
Like all road users, truckers have to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance that is designed to cover the victims’ costs in cases where the truck driver is at fault in a crash. The amount of liability insurance that commercial trucks are covered for is much higher than passenger vehicles simply because a semi truck can cause much more damage than a small car or passenger van can.
Under federal law all trucking companies operating in interstate commerce on U.S. roads must have at least $750,000 in liability coverage when transporting non-hazardous goods. Trucks that are carrying dangerous cargo may be required to have up to $5 million in liability coverage.
Compensation for truck accident victims is usually paid directly from the insurance provider for the trucking company, however, in cases where the company has been shown to be willfully dangerous, victims may also have the right to file a claim directly against the trucking company as well.
Qualified, Compassionate North Carolina Truck Accident Attorneys
Here at Nagle & Associates we put truck crash victims first. We have helped our clients collect millions of dollars in compensation in commercial vehicle accident cases, and we use all available resources to pursue all legal claims when a truck driver or trucking company failed to follow the laws that are designed to keep all road users safe.
Our lead North Carolina truck accident attorney has worked as an insider in the insurance industry as both a claims adjuster handling commercial vehicle accident claims, and later as an insurance defense attorney. This experience gives us intimate knowledge of how trucking companies deal with damage claims, and we use this knowledge to litigate aggressively for truck accident victims.
To schedule your complimentary, confidential consultation, contact us here at Nagle & Associates today. We have offices located throughout North Carolina including in Winston-Salem, Asheville, Raleigh and Charlotte. Remember, the trucking company already has a legal team working to protect their assets — it’s important that you act quickly to protect your right to compensation.