Negligent Trucking Companies: A Guide For Victims, Drivers And Businesses

The trucking industry is one of the most tightly regulated in the United States. Federal, state and local agencies impose restrictions on load limits, types of load carried, driver hours of operation and dozens of other factors.

The reason for trucks being so highly regulated is easy to understand. The size of a semitrailer truck is as much as five times as long as that of an ordinary sedan, and it is about 16 times heavier. This means that extra precautions must be taken to avoid catastrophic accidents. If a bicyclist or pedestrian is involved in a truck accident, they are often killed.

Competitive pressures may tempt some drivers or their companies to ignore regulations at times. These acts of negligence can have fatal results for both the driver and the other motorists they may encounter. If you or a loved one has been impacted by a trucking accident, and you believe that the cause of the accident was a negligent driver or a negligent trucking company, you may be entitled to receive compensation from the responsible parties.

Trucking Negligence: What It Looks Like After An Accident

At the most basic level, truck drivers have a responsibility to drive safely given the current road and weather conditions. However, the liability does not end with the driver. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations were enacted to assign responsibility to companies that own trucks and hire drivers. These trucking companies are also responsible for training their drivers and the safety of the equipment they operate.

A post-accident investigation can turn up many types of negligent behavior by the company and its drivers that may have contributed to the incident. Negligence on the part of those who loaded the cargo may have also played a part in the crash. Other parties who may bear some responsibility for negligence in a truck crash can include the supplier of the cargo or those employees or contractors responsible for the upkeep of the vehicle.

Common Types Of Driver Negligence

Often, tracing negligence in a truck accident reveals that several parties are responsible for the mishap. A company may set unrealistic daily mileage totals for its drivers and provide lax enforcement of hours of service laws or sleep breaks. The driver, trying to meet those deadlines, may engage in reckless driving behavior such as excessive speeding or failure to yield right of way to other vehicles. Other drivers may blur the line between personal and professional time and end up with a drunk driving charge.

Other types of driver negligence include:

  • Failing to check blind spots
  • Parking or driving on the shoulder of the road
  • Making improper turns
  • Texting while driving
  • Failing to stay in one's own lane

Another form of driver-related negligence involves the trucking company hiring or retaining unqualified drivers. This could include drivers who do not possess a commercial driver's license, or who have not passed the proper safety training or obtained necessary certifications to drive large vehicles. If a driver is retained by a company even after being arrested or convicted of DUI, reckless driving or another serious infraction, it can be argued that the driver is not fit to handle a truck the size of a semitrailer.

What Information Should I Gather Right After A Trucking Accident?

There is a crucial window of opportunity immediately after a trucking accident in which it is essential to gather information. If anyone is injured, call 911. Also, call the police or highway patrol and stay on the scene. Be sure to collect the following types of information:

  • Contact information from the other parties – including mailing address, phone number, registration information, insurance information and the trucker's commercial driver's license
  • Statements from any witnesses along with their contact information
  • Photos of the scene of the accident from a variety of angles
  • Documentation (photos especially) of physical impediments to safe driving, such as a tree branch obscuring a sign or adverse road conditions
  • DMV report, which is required by California law to be submitted by all parties within 10 days of an accident

The Regulatory Environment For Trucking And Improving Compliance

At the federal level, the trucking industry is governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). However, over-the-road truckers are also governed by state and local regulations. Regulations change frequently; guidelines may be suspended temporarily or indefinitely due to a regional emergency, or to allow further study of the regulation on commerce or safety.

How Can Trucking Companies Make The Roads Safer?

Trucking companies can take an active role as leaders in regulatory compliance. They can:

  • Establish internal regulations that exceed the minimum standards established by the FMCSA
  • Invest in keeping up to date with the FMCSA's regulations, as well as the restrictions of the states and cities in which they deliver and do business
  • Encourage full compliance among drivers with electronic logging requirements
  • Conduct thorough background evaluations of new and continuing drivers
  • Empower maintenance crews to promptly resolve vehicle issues discovered during routine inspections, rather than letting repairs wait until "next time"

How A Truck Accident Attorney Can Help You After An Accident

Motor vehicle accident claims are always complex, and proving who is at fault can be challenging. By hiring Girardi | Keese to represent you after a truck accident, you will gain the following benefits. Our attorneys will:

  • Review information gathered from the scene of the accident, looking for evidence of driver negligence or negligence by other parties
  • Ensure you receive the medical treatment you need
  • Request medical evaluations to fully document the extent of your injuries and your long-term prognosis
  • Calculate a fair level of compensation for your injuries – often far above what the insurance company will offer you
  • Negotiate with attorneys from the other side of the case to provide an adequate settlement for you
  • Litigate your lawsuit in court if necessary to obtain justice and compensation for you

Trust Our Firm For Guidance After A Negligent Trucking Accident

Trucking accidents are some of the most complex motor vehicle accidents, but Girardi | Keese draws upon its resources and the lawyers' five decades of experience with personal injury cases. Our focus is always on improving your life after your accident, and improving the system so others do not suffer the same harm you did. We get results for our clients – with more than $10 billion recovered in damages over the history of our firm.

To make an appointment to speak with one of our attorneys, call our offices in Los Angeles or San Bernardino at 800-401-4530, or email us.