When traffic accidents involve tractor-trailers or semis, most people assume the truck driver is at fault. But tractor-trailer accidents differ from passenger car accidents, because they can involve many more potentially negligent parties. In many cases, the truly negligent party in a tractor-trailer crash is not even present at the scene of the wreck.
The myth of the fatigued driver
Many people imagine the stereotype of truckers as greedy speed demons who ignore safety regulations and put in long hours behind the wheel in order to make early deliveries and boost their pay. An oft-cited National Transportation Safety Board study from the early nineties boosted this stereotype, claiming that 30 percent to 40 percent of truck crashes result from trucker fatigue.
Those numbers are grossly misleading, however, mainly because they include only single vehicle crashes in which the driver was killed, about .002 percent of all reported truck accidents.
A more recent study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shows a much lower percentage of fatal truck accidents due to fatigued drivers, though it does show that drivers on the road for over eight hours pose an increased risk.
So who is at fault?
Trucking accident lawsuits can name many other liable parties than the driver.
- The trucking company may be named a liable party if working conditions or incentives put the driver at risk.
- The company responsible for loading the truck could be liable if improper distribution of weight led to the accident.
- If a faulty truck part or safety feature or improper or ignored maintenance was responsible for the accident, the trucking manufacturer or mechanic may be liable.
- In cases where faulty road conditions play a role, the government agencies responsible for maintaining those roads may be liable.
If you have been involved in a trucking accident, do not assume the driver is at fault. Let a knowledgeable truck accident attorney help you determine the truly liable party in your case.