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Four Common Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents

Updated July 25, 2020 | By Wilson Kehoe Winingham staff

There’s a lot that can go wrong when operating an eighteen-wheeled commercial motor vehicle. Call them semi-trucks, big rigs, tractor-trailers, or eighteen-wheelers: They’re big, heavy, and sometimes carry hazardous materials and explosives. If something goes wrong, there could be a massive collision. An accident with a loaded semi-truck can be devastating for all parties involved.

Any number of factors can cause semi-truck accidents. Some accidents are similar to car crashes, but other situations are unique to heavy trucks.

What Causes Semi-Truck Accidents?

Common causes of semi-truck accidents include distracted driving, improper training, equipment malfunctions, or improper loading.

Distracted or Impaired Driving

Truck drivers—like the rest of us—are human beings who are subject to human error, but simply being human is no excuse for negligence on the road. As in many car accident cases, driver negligence—or a driver’s failure to take standard care in operating a commercial motor vehicle—is a common cause of accidents.

A driver may be exhausted by a tough schedule, and sleep deprivation inhibits attentiveness at the wheel. Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are extraordinarily dangerous on the road. For this reason, commercial drivers are held to a higher legal standard than the general driving population.

Improper Training

A commercial driver who is not properly trained or licensed is at risk of causing an accident. Semi-trucks handle differently from an average SUV or pickup truck, especially if they’re carrying a loaded trailer. Trucking companies and independent contractors must ensure that their drivers are adequately trained and seasoned with experience before they hit the road.

The training for new truck drivers should cover not only driving techniques but also traffic laws by state, safety protocols, and responsible equipment handling. If it turns out that you collided with a commercial driver who wasn’t trained properly, the attorneys at WKW can help you develop a compelling case.

Equipment Malfunctions

Sometimes the problem isn’t the driver, but a malfunction of the truck itself (for which the driver or owner is responsible). There are more parts to a semi-truck than there are to a car. Anything from the brakes to the trailer hitch could be faulty, all of which can cause an accident. Trucks should be regularly maintained to make sure they’re road-worthy, and trucking companies are responsible for attending to their equipment.

Improper Loading

Semi-trucks haul a lot of cargo, and there’s more to hauling it than simply attaching the trailer to the tractor. Improperly secured cargo can throw a trailer off balance and cause an accident. Toxic liquids and flammable materials can cause something much worse.

Commercial Truck Accident Liability

With most car accident cases, determining liability is straightforward. Commercial vehicle accidents, however, tend to be more thorough: They may involve investigations of the vehicle’s history, employer of the driver, and the nature of their business.

For example, if the accident was caused by a mechanical failure or an improperly maintained component, the trucking company that owns the vehicle could be held responsible. A trucking company could be held liable for failing to carry out repairs, failing to give its drivers adequate training, or for overworking its drivers, among many other things.

Further, loading facilities and freight shippers could be held responsible for improperly securing cargo inside of the vehicle. Investigations could even go as far back as the truck’s manufacturer to look for design flaws or mistakes that may have caused an accident.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today

Truck accidents can vary widely from ordinary car accident cases, and it’s important to have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney on your side. The Indianapolis Truck Accident Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham have several years of experience with Indiana traffic laws as well as with commercial vehicle accident cases. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form.

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