When trucks and cars get into accidents, who is at fault depends on the specific factors in each case. While some evidence shows that passenger vehicles are more likely to cause these accidents, liability is judged on a case-by-case basis. A truck accident attorney can analyze your individual case to help determine who is at fault and pursue the right party for damages.
Causation in Truck/Car Crashes and How Fault Is Determined
Recent stats from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) show the critical reason for a crash between a truck and a car was assigned to the car in 56 percent of cases. Based on this data, when trucks and cars are in crashes, cars are most often at fault.
Some of this has to do with the fact that truck drivers can’t react to situations as passenger vehicle drivers can. Someone in a car may not realize the danger of cutting too close in front of a truck or how weather affects truck maneuverability. Additionally, the LTCCS study highlights driver fatigue, alcohol impairment, and speeding as the biggest risks.
You Deserve to Have Your Accident Investigated
Despite the LTCCS results, statistics like these do not determine fault. Who is held liable after an accident is based only on the facts of that individual accident and the rules of the road. Insurance adjusters conduct investigations into crashes for this reason.
As a result, if you were the driver of a passenger vehicle and were hurt in a crash involving a truck, don’t assume you are at fault. You can even enlist a personal injury attorney to independently investigate your case if you suspect an adjuster isn’t fairly assessing your claim.
For a free legal consultation, call 412-661-1400
When Is a Truck or Car Driver At Fault in a Crash?
According to the LTCCS findings, critical reasons for crashes by drivers are grouped into the following categories:
Errors in these areas could leave a truck or car driver at fault for an accident with another vehicle.
Examples of this error include:
- Distracted driving
- Failure to assess road conditions
- Lack of attention to the road
- Failure to check blind spots
The top three distractions while driving are manual distractions like texting, cognitive distractions like daydreaming, and visual distractions like looking at a GPS device. Truck drivers can just as easily fall prey to any of these as car drivers, leaving them at fault for a crash.
All drivers, whether of a truck or a passenger vehicle, must pay attention to the road and stay alert for any changes to road conditions. However, truck drivers must monitor the road to make sure they have the space and time to maneuver or brake if necessary. Failure to do so is negligence.
Truck drivers ensure they have enough space by checking their blind spots, which are more significant for large trucks. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) even recommends that truckers check their mirrors every eight to 10 seconds and look ahead one to two blocks to check for changes in traffic.
As the name suggests, these are mistakes made when a driver makes the wrong choice on the road:
- Making improper turns or lane changes
- Tailgating other cars
- Not driving defensively
No one is perfect, so some assumptions we make about other drivers’ behavior are incorrect. Decision errors veer into negligence when a driver’s choices are not what a reasonable person would make under the same circumstances. For instance, a truck driver shouldn’t assume that other cars will get out of the way when they want to change lanes, especially without signaling.
Any physical impairment falls under this category. Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a form of negligence. If a truck driver engaged in these behaviors, causing your crash, a drunk driving lawyer can assist in gathering evidence like police reports and drug or alcohol testing.
Another notable example of this mistake is falling asleep at the wheel. Drowsy driving concerns commercial truck drivers so much that the FMCSA enforces federal hours-of-service regulations to ensure they take breaks. Someone who ignores these regulations or a trucking company that fails to enforce them could be at fault.
These occur when a driver overcompensates or loses control of the vehicle. For instance, if a driver struck another vehicle because they overcorrected from a blown tire, they are potentially at fault for the damage they caused.
Trucking and Cargo Companies Could Share Responsibility
Trucking companies and cargo companies can make mistakes that leave them at fault when trucks and cars are in crashes, like:
- Negligent hiring and training practices
- Failure to properly load cargo onto the truck
- Failure to warn drivers of hazards associated with the cargo
These forms of negligence are sometimes not immediately apparent after an accident, so investigating each individual case is important to check the context of the crash.
Other Variables that Can Affect Truck and Car Crashes
Per the FMCSA, each crash can have hundreds of associated factors, including:
- Roadway problems
- Traffic conditions
- Weather and environmental factors
- Equipment failures
- Unfamiliarity with roads
Some of these could make the truck driver or company at fault—equipment failures could mean the driver or company failed to maintain the vehicle. Others could leave third parties liable, like property owners or government entities. For example, a dangerous highway accident attorney can determine if a road was poorly designed or maintained.
In other words, hundreds of variables can cause a crash. The FMCSA points out that some actions that cause accidents can occur months before the actual crash, and accidents don’t typically boil down to one factor. For this reason, you and your legal team should rely on the unique factors in your case when determining fault.
Berger and Green Can Assess Who Is At Fault in Your Truck/Car Crash
Truck accidents can leave passenger vehicle occupants with severe injuries. If you got hurt in this way, we encourage you to learn about all the paths to obtaining compensation. You can use our free consultation to help you understand who is at fault in your truck and car crash. Our attorneys can then discuss your options for damages. Contact us today.