Being injured in a truck accident is without a doubt one of the most devastating experiences. Since the average truck is 20 – 30 times larger and heavier than a passenger car, the collision has horrific consequences for a car driver and the other people in the vehicle. And, as any Ohio truck accident lawyer knows, recovering damages after a truck accident is very difficult.
The main challenge is the value of truck accident victims’ claims. These people often suffer extensive, life-changing injuries. As a result, the combined value of medical care costs and lost wages reaches the upper range of tens of thousands of dollars.
Secondly, in many situations, one of the liable parties in truck accidents is the driver’s employer – the trucking company. These companies have big and powerful insurance companies that fight even more aggressively against claims that auto accident insurers.
These two challenges are the reason why it is crucial to determine not just the at-fault party, but also the cause of truck accidents. And this is what an experienced Ohio truck accident lawyer will strive to ascertain.
Truck Drivers Are Subject to Clear Federal Regulations on Hours of Service
As we will show below, one of the most common causes of truck accidents is drowsy driving. This means that the driver had been on duty for a long time, without taking a break. Yet, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has clear rules for commercial drivers.
Truck drivers should comply with the following hours of service:
- Maximum 11 hours of driving after 10 consecutive hours off duty
- A 30-minute break after driving for 8 hours.
In reality, as any Ohio truck accident lawyer knows, drivers are pressured by trucking companies to make deliveries within short deadlines. They are forced to choose between following their employers’ instructions (and, consequently, keeping their job) and complying with legal requirements.
The Cause of Truck Accidents May Implicate Other Liable Parties
As we explained above, it is important to know the cause of truck accidents because it gives you a better chance to recover all your eligible damages. The truck driver’s insurance alone is rarely sufficient to cover all the economic and non-economic damages resulting from a truck crash.
Therefore, your Ohio truck accident lawyer will analyze the circumstances of the crash carefully. So, let us look at the most frequent reasons for a truck collision, and how they may implicate other parties:
1. Distracted Driving
Driver distraction is the number one cause of most traffic accidents. However, in the case of an 18-wheeler or semi-truck, a moment of distraction can result in a tragedy with multiple casualties.
If the driver was on the clock, their employer may be held liable for an accident caused by distracted driving. Unfortunately, proving your case is not an easy task. Thus, you must make sure that you bring your case to a seasoned Ohio truck accident lawyer.
2. Drowsy Driving
Driver fatigue is a common issue among truck drivers. They have very tight delivery deadlines and must cover a long distance in a very short time. In many situations, truck companies urge their drivers to disregard the hours of service rules.
This is a clear case of the employer’s vicarious liability. However, you must act fast in order to prove your case. Some companies will go as far as to illegally alter their drivers’ logs, making it look as if they complied with the FMCSA rule.
Therefore, it is crucial to retain legal representation, so that your Ohio truck accident lawyer can subpoena the driver’s log before it is interfered with.
3. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
DUI is an offense in Ohio if the blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.08. A BAC of 0.17 and more is an aggravated offense carrying severe penalties. Unfortunately, many truck drivers ignore the law and everyone else’s safety and drive under the influence of alcohol or even drugs.
In truck accidents where the truck driver tested above the legal BAC limit, the driver is almost exclusively at fault. The employer cannot be held liable for the actions of an employee who chooses to break the law.
However, there is an exception. If your Ohio truck accident lawyer can prove that the driver had a history of DUI charges, it is quite clear that their employer should have known about them. Thus, the trucking company may be held liable on the grounds of negligent hiring.
4. Reckless/Aggressive Driving
Aggressive drivers are a danger on public roads. They tailgate the cars in front of them, change lanes frequently, and are prone to exceed the maximum speed limit. The danger is a hundredfold greater when such people are behind the wheel of a large, fully loaded truck.
In the experience of any Ohio truck accident lawyer, aggressive or reckless drivers have a history of traffic violations. Thus, the trucking company should have known about their problems if they conducted a thorough background check before hiring the driver.
Armed with the truck driver’s driving history, your lawyer can name the trucking company as a liable party in your truck accident claim.
5. Vehicle Malfunction
Finally, truck accidents sometimes happen because the vehicle does not respond to the truck driver’s commands. In this case, an Ohio truck accident lawyer will investigate to find out who is liable for the malfunction. Liable parties may include:
- The truck manufacturer
- A producer/distributor of the defective part
- The trucking company for failing to perform regular maintenance on their vehicle
- The truck maintenance company for overlooking the defect.
Let a Skilled Ohio Truck Accident Lawyer Win Your Compensation!
Truck accident claims are notoriously difficult to handle. As a last resort, trucking companies will claim that their drivers are independent contractors, not employees. This would remove their liability in any situation.
However, a seasoned Ohio truck accident lawyer will definitely not accept this claim without investigating. In many cases, we were able to prove that the truck driver was actually an employee. This allowed our clients to recover all their eligible damages from the trucking company’s insurer.
If you want to increase your chances of recovering damages, we encourage you to schedule a free case review with us as soon as possible after the truck accident. We will analyze the available evidence carefully and give you a reliable legal opinion.
If you have a case, we will represent you on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay nothing until we win your case. Call us today!