Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in Georgia and throughout the United States, and truck accidents can be particularly devastating. When a truck accident occurs, it is rare for the occupants of the smaller vehicle involved to walk away from the crash without serious injuries.
At the offices of the Prichard Injury Firm, our Georgia lawyers care about reducing the number of truck accidents. We believe that this goal starts with identifying some of the most common causes of truck accidents, listed below—
Driver Performance and Error
According to data collected and published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) driver performance and error is a leading cause of truck accidents throughout the nation. Examples of truck drivers’ errors that can lead to a crash include:
- Driver distraction;
- Driving too fast for conditions;
- Driving aggressively;
- Failing to yield;
- Performing an illegal maneuver;
- Driving while fatigued; and
- Driving while impaired.
Of the above, things like driving while impaired and driving while fatigued tend to disproportionately affect truck drivers. The FMCSA also reports that in some events, a truck accident was caused by a truck driver having a heart attack or seizure, or being physically impaired for another reason. Note that even when a truck driver’s actions lead to a crash, it is often the trucking company that is held liable under the theory of vicarious liability.
Of course, truck drivers aren’t the only ones who are guilty of unsafe behaviors; other drivers on the road are often guilty of the same errors listed above, which can and do cause truck accidents. Driving in a truck driver’s blind spot, attempting to pass on the right, following too closely, or cutting off a large truck are behaviors that are especially dangerous.
While truck drivers’ actions are sometimes to blame for large truck crashes, this isn’t always the case. Another top cause of truck accidents is vehicle problems. In fact, brake problems are listed by the FMCSA as one of the top 10 causes of large truck crashes.
In addition to brake problems, tire defects, such as tire tread separation, engine problems, and other vehicle defects can also cause a crash.
Vehicle defects aren’t the only vehicle-related issues that may lead to a crash; another problem is cargo shifts. If cargo is improperly loaded or secured, it can shift in transit, which can cause a significant weight shift within the trailer, forcing the trailer to move or even to tip in serious cases.
Another type of vehicle problem that can lead to a truck accident is that of improper truck maintenance. If vehicles aren’t routinely serviced and tested for safety–which is the duty of the trucking company–they may be unfit for the road.
Depending upon the specific vehicle problem, a manufacturer or distributor of a defective vehicle part, the shipper or loader of cargo, or the trucking company may be held liable.
Truck drivers have no control over road conditions, but they do have a duty to exercise the appropriate duty of care should a dangerous road condition present itself, such as a wet roadway (which would, logically, mean that the truck driver should slow down).
The FMCSA lists “roadways problems” and “unfamiliarity with roadway” as two of the top 10 most-cited factors leading to truck accidents. Roadway issues might include potholes, construction zones, deceased animals, animals running out into the road, debris, and wet or icy road conditions. Heavily-trafficked areas where congestion is high also increase the risk of a truck accident.
Who’s liable for an accident caused by poor road conditions depends on the specifics of the accident. If a pothole which should have been repaired and wasn’t was the cause, the entity responsible for road maintenance may be held liable. If a driver should have exercised a greater amount of care when navigating a risky road condition, the driver (or the trucking company) may be to blame.
Our Georgia Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
The causes of truck accidents are many. This is one of the reasons that the claims process can be so complicated – you may have a difficult time identifying how your accident occurred or who’s to blame. At the offices of Pritchard Injury Firm, our Georgia truck accident lawyers will open an investigation into your case, help you to identify the liable party, and will work hard to prove fault, causation, and damages. To learn more about how we can serve you, please call us today or send us a message requesting more information and a free case consultation.