WHO IS AT FAULT?
The targets of a properly conducted investigation often will include the truck driver, trucking company (or carrier) and the manufacturer of the truck and its parts.
At Burch, George & Germany, we understand the types of information that need to be uncovered in a truck accident investigation in order to establish who is at fault.
Oklahoma City Truck Accidents Caused By Truck Driver
The actions of the driver before and at the time of a truck accident are important. In addition to looking at how the accident occurred, we examine evidence of:
- Driver fatigue Truckers are bound by federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. These rules are aimed at preventing tired drivers from being on the road. They govern how long a trucker can drive and when they must take breaks. The rules also require drivers to log their driving activity and rest periods. An investigation will examine these records to determine whether HOS violations occurred. Fatigue can also be revealed by looking at toll, restaurant or lodging receipts.
- Alcohol or drug use Only a small percentage of commercial truck accidents are caused by drivers who are impaired by alcohol or illegal drugs. Still, all drivers must be tested for these substances immediately after a crash. Also, drivers should be tested for any prescription drugs that may have hindered their ability to safely operate the rig.
- Distracted driving The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that nearly a third of all large commercial motor vehicle accidents can be attributed to driver inattention. Despite state and federal laws that ban using a hand-held cell phone and texting while driving a large truck, distracted driving continues to be a significant factor in numerous crashes each year.
- Driver error In many cases, truck drivers are simply negligent or reckless in how they operate their vehicles. One FMCSA study found that the most frequent reasons truckers get into wrecks include:
- Making an illegal maneuver (improper passing)
- Inadequate surveillance (not looking both ways)
- Traveling too fast for conditions (speeding)
- Following too closely (tailgating)
- Misjudgment of the gap between vehicles or the other vehicle’s speed
- Failing to stop in time to avoid a crash.
The accident scene, witness statements and new technology such as “black boxes” can all be helpful in determining whether the tractor-trailer driver’s mistakes led to the accident.
A trucking company can be held liable in two ways.
First, the company can be liable for the negligence of its employees, including truckers or those who maintain or load cargo onto transfer trucks.
Second, the company can be held liable for its own negligent conduct. For instance, the company can be held legally responsible for hiring a driver with a history of drunk driving convictions or for pressuring employees to skirt or break the law by pushing them to exceed HOS limits in order to meet delivery deadlines. Carriers can also be held responsible for failing to maintain their truck fleet.
All manufacturers have a legal obligation to ensure the products they sell to the public or other businesses are reasonably safe when used as intended.
Brake failures, for instance, are a commonly cited mechanical failure in large truck accidents. These failures can be caused by the lack of proper maintenance or by a failure in design or during production by the manufacturer. Tire failures, including tread separations and blowouts, also frequently cause 18-wheeler accidents and need to be investigated to determine whether they were caused by a faulty design or manufacturing defect.
Contact an Experienced Oklahoma Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck accident cases can be complicated. Many people have a financial interest at stake in the outcome of the case. The truck driver, trucking company/carrier and manufacturer of the truck or its parts may all face liability. This is why their insurance companies employ teams of lawyers to investigate and explain away the cause of a serious accident.
At Burch, George & Germany, our truck accident lawyers represent individuals in Oklahoma and across the U.S. who are hurt by negligent truck drivers, carriers and manufacturers. Our Oklahoma truck accident attorney works hard to establish who is at fault for the crash. We seek the compensation that innocent victims and their families deserve.
Contact us today for a free consultation. Call our toll-free number or contact us online. We’re ready to get to work for you right away.