Truck drivers have dangerous jobs under the best of circumstances, and accidents involving large trucks may prove fatal for one or more involved parties. Whether you or a loved one was involved, it is important to have a basic knowledge of how personal injury claims are handled when truck accidents occur. The following are several causes of truck accidents and what personal injury lawyers look for.
Accidents Caused by Fatigue
The most preventable cause of accidents are those in which truck drivers fall asleep at the wheel. Excessive drowsiness may cause a truck driver to lose control of their vehicle, even if they remain conscious. As a safety measure, Federal regulations known as “hours of service rules” are in place to limit instances of driver fatigue.
When investigating a personal injury claim, your attorney will check the driver’s logs, as well as any trip tickets or bills of lading. These resources will help to determine whether the driver has violated the hours of service rules. Companies who have multiple instances of inaccurate or missing driver logs are held liable during fatigue-related claims.
Situations Involving Prescription Drugs
Federal regulations require companies to test truck drivers regularly for drug or alcohol use, as well as do random testing. In some cases, a driver may attempt to sabotage a drug test using synthetic urine or other methods. The Department of Transportation now requires drug testing records from previous employers as well as current records as a means to prevent falsified test results.
Sometimes, accidents involving drug use may be traced to prescription drugs. Physicians are required to determine whether a prescription will interfere with a driver’s duties. Companies must be notified if there is a risk that any medication will interfere with a driver’s ability to work safely.
When dealing with an accident that may involve controlled substances or prescription drugs, especially in the case of a fatality, personal injury lawyers will examine the driver’s medical records and drug screening history for any signs of fault. In cases where an employer was aware of risks from prescription drugs, the company may be held liable in a lawsuit.
Tipped Trailers and Insecure Loads
One of the leading causes of truck accidents is rollovers. When examining a personal injury claim involving rollover, an attorney will look at weather conditions and any nearby curves in the road to determine if the driver was traveling too fast for the truck’s weight. Additionally, the trailer will be checked for signs that the weight was improperly distributed, making the trailer more likely to tip on curves.
In some cases the cargo may have been poorly secured and shift during transport, causing a rollover. Poorly secured cargo on open trailers may also dislodge, causing accidents. As truck drivers are responsible for checking their loads before beginning a trip, these are considered driver faults and not company error.
Dealing with Faulty Equipment
Both companies and drivers are required to check tires and other equipment for possible faults prior to any trip. Unfortunately, these checks are not always performed. In the event of equipment failure, an investigation will seek to determine whether or not a proper inspection had been performed.
In a personal injury claim involving large trucks, the driver is most often held responsible. If you are a driver seeking a claim against your employer, it is important to prove that you have followed all procedures. For personal injury claims by individuals against a truck driver or company, it is vital to obtain all electronic or written logs to help determine if the driver was at fault.