Trucks are the most dangerous vehicles on the road. Trucks can’t maneuver as easily as cars and other passenger vehicles; trucks have several blind spots (or No Zones); trucks take longer to stop than passenger vehicles; etc. Moreover, injuries from truck accidents are often catastrophic or fatal because of the size and weight of the truck. The size and weight of the truck affects the magnitude of the force it exerts on the people inside the other vehicles in a crash. The greater the force, the greater the risk of serious injury.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDS), 1 in 10 crash fatalities in 2020 involved large trucks. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 83% of crash fatalities involving large trucks in 2020 were not occupants of the large truck. In other words, the people who die in trucking accidents are typically the occupants of the other vehicles.
Common Causes of Truck Crashes
- Failing to maintain lane
- Driving too fast for road and weather conditions
- Distracted driving
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Negligent hiring/supervision/training of drivers by the trucking company
- Mechanical problems (e.g., faulty brakes and tires)
Trucks are Subject to Specific Safety Laws
Commercial motor vehicles are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). Those federal regulations set forth the minimum safety standards for commercial motor vehicles operating in interstate commerce (and intrastate commerce (i.e., within the state of Georgia) to the extent that those regulations don’t conflict with Georgia law). The FMCSR broadly defines the term “commercial motor vehicle” to include any vehicle or vehicle combination with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,001 lbs. or more. Thus, commercial motor vehicles include various types of vehicles such as buses, garbage trucks, delivery trucks, dump trucks, work vans, large pickup trucks with trailers, etc.
The FMCSR imposes certain safety requirements on commercial motor vehicle owners and/or operators. Some examples include the following:
- A drivers must pass a physical exam. 49 C.F.R. § 391.11
- A driver must inspect the truck before driving the truck. 49 C.F.R. § 396.13. That inspection must include specific parts and accessories of the truck such as the brakes, lights, tires, etc. See 49 C.F.R. § 396.11.
- The trucking company cannot permit or require its truck drivers to exceed the maximum hours of service requirements. 49 C.F.R. 395.3. (See our Trucking Whistleblower page for more information.)
- The trucking company must review the driving records of its truck drivers at least once every 12 months. 49 C.F.R. § 391.25
Trucks are Required to Carry More Liability Insurance
Given the likelihood of serious property damage and catastrophic injuries in a truck accident, truck owners are required to carry significantly more in liability insurance than passenger vehicles. The FMCSR requires commercial motor vehicles that don’t transport hazardous material to have at least $750,000.00 in liability insurance. See 49 C.F.R. § 387.9. The FMCSR requires commercial motor vehicles that transport certain hazardous materials to have at least $5,000,000.00 in liability insurance. See 49 C.F.R. § 387.9
Multiple Parties Could be Liable
Depending on the circumstances of the trucking accident, multiple parties could be liable for your injuries. For instance, the trucking company that employed the truck driver could be liable based on the doctrine of respondeat superior (a Latin phrase meaning “let the master answer”). Under that theory of vicarious liability, an employer is liable for the negligent acts of its employees committed in the course of their employment as if the employer had committed the negligent acts. See O.C.G.A. § 51-2-2. Under Georgia law, an employee who is driving a company-owned vehicle is presumed to be acting within the course and scope of his employment. See F. E. Fortenberry & Sons v. Malmberg, 97 Ga. App. 162, 165-166 (1958). To overcome this presumption, the employer must present “clear, positive, and uncontradicted” evidence to the contrary. Id. at 166. So, for example, if a FedEx truck crashes into you, then both the driver and FedEx are presumed to be responsible for your injuries.
SMITH LAW Can Help
Trucking accidents are complicated and often involve multiple defendants—none of whom want to pay full value for your losses. So, it’s important to promptly retain a trucking accident attorney.
Located in Dacula in Gwinnett County, SMITH LAW handles trucking accident injury claims throughout the state of Georgia. Call us now at (678) 889-5191 or click the button below to find out whether our trucking accident lawyers can help.
Disclaimer: the information on this website isn’t legal advice and doesn’t create an attorney-client relationship. Don’t rely on the information.