With an estimated 16 million large trucks crisscrossing U.S. roads, we know that a percentage of these colossal vehicles will be involved in a motor vehicle crash leading to serious and fatal injuries.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 159,000 people sustained injuries and more than 5,000 died in crashes involving large trucks. Such statistics cannot help but make one wonder what players are liable for a big-rig truck crash. The finger of blame may point to a disparate group.
Truck drivers to governments
Here are some of those players that may be liable after a big-rig truck crash:
- Truck drivers: A big-rig driver’s negligence such as speeding, distracted driving and impaired driving may lead to a collision. Fatigue also may set in since truck drivers work long shifts. Also, if mechanical failure or the shifting of cargo inside the trailer leads to a crash, the driver may bear some responsibility because his or her duties include inspecting for vehicle safety issues and ensuring the proper loading of the freight.
- Trucking companies: The bottom line is that trucking companies remain responsible for their fleet and their drivers. Their trucks must be properly maintained and inspected. Also, trucking firms must properly vet and train their drivers.
- The truck manufacturer and parts maker: Manufacturers must ensure that their large trucks are safe to operate. Problems such as steering and brake failures and tire blowouts also may point to defective parts.
- Maintenance firms: This also falls under the responsibility of trucking companies that need to hire dependable mechanics. Poor and incomplete work may cause mechanical failure to these big-rig trucks that weigh several tons.
- Loading companies: The proper loading of cargo is necessary to ensure that the freight does not shift, potentially causing a truck crash.
- Municipalities and their contractors: Government agencies have the responsibility to maintain their roads. If roadway hazards contribute to a large truck crash, local and state governments may be liable. The same goes for a government contractor that performs shoddy work.
Any detail that gets overlooked may contribute to an unthinkable tragedy.
Failing to focus on safety
You expect a safe driving trip when sharing the road with a big-rig truck. But that could change at a moment’s notice because of the irresponsibility of a variety of parties who failed to focus on truck safety.