Large trucks pose a serious hazard on the road, particularly to smaller vehicles. Data reported in 2012 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that close to 4,000 people were killed and 104,000 people were injured in accidents involving large trucks. Most fatalities and injuries were sustained by people in the other vehicles.
One recent example in Indiana involved a well-regarded theater actor from Chicago who died after a semi collided with his car. Bernard G. Yvon was a stage actor who was very well-known and admired in the Chicago theater scene. Immensely talented, he was famous for his singing and dancing abilities in addition to his acting skill. According to news reports, the northbound truck struck his car as it was making a left turn out of the southbound lane.
Who’s at fault for large truck collisions?
Even though the occupants of smaller vehicles are more vulnerable during a crash with a large truck, a thorough investigation is always necessary to determine fault. After a collision with a large truck, the following are some of the issues that need to be investigated:
Violations of traffic law
The behavior and accident history for the truck driver and the company they work for will need to be looked into. The behavior of the passenger vehicle driver will also be scrutinized. First and foremost: was anyone driving while intoxicated or violating traffic law (e.g. speeding)? It’s also necessary to look into the potential for logbook violations–a truck driver in violation of Hours-of-Service regulations (HOS) could be driving fatigued as a result of lack of sleep.
Even if no one was flagrantly breaking traffic laws, could the accident have been prevented with greater care on the road?
For example, drivers who are hit while making a left turn are often held liable for an accident, as they need to make a judgment call about when it’s safe to turn; however, if their vehicle experiences a mechanical failure as they’re turning (or the driver who hits them has failed to obey a traffic signal or violated other traffic laws), their share in the fault might be reduced.
Mechanical or structural deficiencies
If an accident resulted in part from a poorly maintained or manufactured vehicle component, who is responsible? With large trucks, other problems might arise from improperly loaded cargo, which could spill out onto the road and cause additional damage during a crash.
If you’re in a passenger vehicle that has been involved in a truck accident, we encourage you to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney. Regardless of who was at fault for the crash, you may be struggling with steep medical bills or costly vehicle repairs. Your lawyer will carefully review what happened during the crash, provide you with invaluable advice, and advocate for you as you deal with insurance companies and possible civil litigation.