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A Legacy of Legal Innovation

Causes of Truck Accidents

Why did your truck accident happen?

When the attorneys of Meyerkord & Meyerkord represent a client in a truck accident claim, we conduct an exhaustive investigation of the accident in order to accurately determine the cause or causes of the incident. While some trucking accidents are unavoidable, many can be directly attributed to the careless or reckless actions of the truck driver.

Drunk Driving

Believe it or not, some truckers will take the enormous risk of drinking and driving. Nearly anyone will agree that driving under the influence of alcohol is an act of gross negligence, yet some truck drivers will commit this crime, thereby placing the lives of everyone on the road in danger.

Employer / Driver Negligence

In many cases, the truck driver can clearly be demonstrated to be at fault for the collision, but in other cases a careful accident investigation will reveal that the trucking company is responsible.

Either way, a Missouri truck accident attorney from Meyerkord & Meyerkord can help you file an injury claim to recover compensation for the losses you have suffered. Call our firm at (800) 391-4318 today.

The trucking company may be found to be liable for a failure to maintain the truck or could be held accountable for sending the truck out with an unsecured cargo load. Trucking companies may also be held liable for negligently hiring or retaining unqualified or irresponsible drivers.

Truckers, however, frequently take outrageous risks through actions such as drinking and driving or using a cell phone to talk or text behind the wheel. Other times, drivers may be at fault for causing accidents through reckless or incompetent driving. There are also cases in which the trucker and the employer may share liability, such as if the driver succumbed to pressure to violate the hours of service regulations by driving while fatigued.

Failure to Maintain

Was your truck accident caused by a sudden, catastrophic mechanical breakdown in the truck? The trucking company may be responsible for a failure to properly maintain the vehicle, while the trucker also has a duty to inspect the truck during use and ensure that the truck receives any repairs that may be necessary.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, enacts and enforces regulations concerning the proper routine maintenance of the commercial semi-trucks that crisscross the country every day. The 18-wheelers that pass through St. Louis on I-70, I-55, I-64, and other highways are generally subject to these and other regulations.

Trucking companies are required to keep maintenance records for at least 30 days, while drivers must perform an inspection of the vehicle before each time it is taken it out on the road and take action to repair any defects that may be discovered. When a truck accident occurs as a result of a failure to maintain the vehicle according to these regulations, the accident victim may have grounds to sue for damages.

Tired Drivers

Tired truck drivers are responsible for an astonishing number of accidents on the roads and highways of the United States. In fact, a study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board found that 31% of all semi-truck accidents are caused by trucker fatigue.

Research published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicates that truck drivers generally sleep only five hours during the time they set aside for resting on a long-haul trip; they ideally should get at least seven hours of sleep before getting back on the road. Objective tests of the drivers' performance and ability did not correlate with the drivers' own statements about their alertness. In other words, truckers typically are not good judges of whether or not they are too tired to drive.

A careful investigation of a truck accident will frequently reveal that the driver was fatigued at the time of the accident. Truckers are often under considerable pressure to meet demanding delivery deadlines, which often compels them to stay on the road for hours after they have become too tired to drive safely.

Unsafe Lane Changes

Semi-trucks have several large blind spots that are commonly referred to as "no-zones" because other drivers are cautioned against driving in these areas of no visibility on the part of the trucker. Regardless, the trucker should be sure to check these spots in the mirrors before making lane changes to avoid a collision with a vehicle travelling alongside the trailer.

Since 1994, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been conducting a public awareness campaign regarding the "no-zones" found on semi-trucks and other large vehicles. The no-zones are the four major blind spots on the sides, ahead of, and immediately behind an 18-wheeler.

When a sedan, coupe, or other passenger automobile is driving in one of these zones, it will typically be difficult or even impossible for the truck driver to see the smaller vehicle. The purpose of the "Don't Hang Out in the No-Zone" campaign is to prevent truck accidents that occur when a truck makes a lane change, stops suddenly, or rear-ends a vehicle in one of these blind spots.

Unsecure Cargo

There are many cases on record of a truck accident that has been caused through no fault of the driver but because of an unsecured cargo load. The heavy loads carried by 18-wheelers can cause catastrophic damage if they spill off the trailer, with consequences such as property damage, serious injury, and death.

Contact us now to speak with a Missouri truck accident lawyer and determine whether you have grounds for a personal injury or wrongful death claim.

The Driver's Handbook on Cargo Securement, published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), states that cargo must be secured in such a way that it will stay in place "under all conditions that could reasonably be expected to occur in normal driving." This includes high winds, braking, accelerating, and cornering. The cargo must also be able to remain secure when the driver is making maneuvers to avoid an emergency.

If a load is not properly secured, then the driver or the trucking company may be issued fines and the vehicle may even be placed out of service. The FMCSA regulations require that the load be secured to the point that it will not leak, spill, blow off the vehicle, fall from the vehicle, fall through the vehicle, or shift upon or within the vehicle to such an extent that it will affect the vehicle's stability or maneuverability.

The American Automobile Association conducted a survey in 2004 with the astonishing result that more than 25,000 motor vehicle accidents are caused by unsecured cargo every year. Even small items can cause serious accidents if they fly off and hit an automobile roof, strike another vehicle in the windshield, or land in the lane in front of oncoming traffic, but the typical cargo carried on many 18-wheelers and flatbed trucks is much larger and far more dangerous.

Negligent Hiring & Retention

Victims who suffer injuries and losses in preventable truck accidents may have a right to recover their damages by filing a personal injury claim. These claims – or lawsuits – can be filed against truck drivers whose negligence or wrongful acts more likely than not caused accidents and injuries. Because trucking companies employ these drivers, they too can be held responsible for failing to ensure the safe operation of their vehicles.

Trucking companies can be held accountable for accidents caused by a variety of circumstances, including overworked and tired drivers, inadequate driver training, improper vehicle maintenance, and others. In situations where accidents are caused by truck drivers who arguably should never been behind a wheel, trucking companies may also be held responsible for negligent hiring or retention.

Examples of this may include:

  • Hiring a driver with an unsafe driving record
  • Hiring a driver with a history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Hiring a driver with a criminal record or past DUI/DWI convictions
  • Hiring an unqualified driver
  • Retaining a driver who has been convicted of DUI/DWI or multiple traffic infractions
  • Retaining a driver who has been involved in multiple accidents or who has demonstrated an inability to operate a truck safely

Trucking companies have a legal obligation to ensure that they take reasonable measures to keep others on public roads and highways safe from preventable harm. When they hire unqualified or irresponsible drivers, or when they retain drivers who have demonstrated an inability to safely operate vehicles, they can potentially be held liable for the damages victims suffer in preventable accidents.

Request a Free Consultation

At Meyerkord, Meyerkord & Kurth, our truck accident attorneys in Missouri are committed to recovering the compensation injured truck accident victims need and deserve. We work closely with clients and explore all potential causes of their accident to effectively establish fault and liability.

If you would like more information about negligent hiring and retention or your truck accident personal injury claim, contact us online or call (800) 391-4318.

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