While crashes involving 18-wheelers and other large commercial vehicles are not all that common, when they do cause a wreck, victims often seek a trucking accident attorney to assist with the legal process. An 18-wheeler weighs thousands of pounds more than standard passenger vehicles and this difference in weight is why these crashes often result in severe injury. With all of this in mind, there is no excuse for drivers and transport companies to ignore safety regulations, which are established at the state and federal level. But these regulations are often ignored, and it’s other people on the road that often have to pay for it.
WHEN SHOULD A VICTIM CONSIDER HIRING A TRUCKING ACCIDENT ATTORNEY?
If someone is hurt during a crash involving an 18-wheeler, it’s always a good idea to consider legal action. While the commercial driver and their employer may not be to blame, there is usually some degree of negligence involved. As soon as a victim receives medical attention for their injuries, they should consider consulting with a lawyer to discuss the details of their case.
A lawyer will look at the existing evidence to determine the claim’s viability. This evidence may include photos of the crash, witness testimony, police reports and reports from first responders, the victim’s medical records, truck maintenance records, and data taken from the vehicle’s recording devices. Together, these elements can paint a comprehensive picture of the events leading up to the crash, and if necessary, a lawyer can even reenact the crash for the court.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON CAUSES ASSOCIATED WITH AN 18-WHEELER CRASH?
When a trucking accident attorney manages a claim, they will look for what factors were behind the crash. In the vast majority of cases, there is at least some negligence present, so the cause of the crash is an important piece of information. The factors involved in the crash may include:
- Driver error, which is by far the most common cause of a crash. Driver error includes things like speeding, making a sudden turn or lane change, or not applying the brakes in time. Driver error is so common in the transport industry because drivers are often pushed to handle long, grueling hours that cause major fatigue.
- Poor vehicle maintenance, which is the responsibility of the vehicle owner. Transport companies are required to inspect their vehicles regularly for any signs of mechanical failure, and address those issues as soon as they appear. Failure to do so can result in things like tire blowouts, trailer attachment failure, inadequate vehicle lighting, brake failure and other mechanical issues. The manufacturer of the truck may also be held liable if parts are found to be defective.
- Dangerous cargo loading. The party responsible for loading the 18-wheeler also has a duty to ensure safety on the roads. There are safe loading methods that must be employed, and a failure to do so can cause vehicle instability once it is back in traffic.
The driver, their employer, and the people responsible for loading the vehicle may all share liability for a crash, and a claim involving multiple defendants is not uncommon. Fortunately, an experienced lawyer can manage a complex case and take on several defendants, if need be.