Truck Accident Victims: Tips On Establishing Liability When No Laws Were Technically Broken

Posted on: 7 July 2015

If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accident with a truck driver, you may be facing intense pain, suffering and costly medical bills. Luckily, if you can establish liability for the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering. However, many people think that if there were no obvious laws broken that they won't be able to establish negligence.

That is not true. Here is a look at several examples where the law wasn't broken but someone can still be held liable for the accident.

1. Going too fast without breaking the speed limit

If the truck that hit you was not technically speeding, it may still have been going too fast. Unfortunately, in most cases, the tires on semis are not made to exceed speeds greater than 75 miles per hour. However, in many states including Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Texas, you legally can drive faster than that on the freeway.

Establishing liability in a case where the driver wasn't technically breaking the law but was driving unsafely can go in a number of directions. If the driver knew his or her tires couldn't handle those high speeds but drove them anyway, the driver personally may be liable.

If the trucking company advised the driver to travel at those speeds in spite of knowing that the tires couldn't handle it, the company may be liable. In other cases, if the manufacturer of the tires failed to advise the trucking company about the tires' limitations, the tire manufacturer may be liable.

2. Fatigued after taking recommended breaks

The number of trucking accidents caused by fatigue is highly debated. Some in the industry claim it is as low as 2 percent while others claim fatigue is responsible for nearly a third (31 percent) of all trucking accidents.

Truck drivers are required to rest at certain intervals. For example, they cannot legally drive more than 70 hours per week, they have to take 34-hour resting periods between 70-hour work weeks, and they cannot legally drive for more than 11 hours per day. However, the law doesn't stipulate that they have to take a nap or that they have to get refreshing REM sleep.

Because of that, a truck driver may take all of the breaks required by law but still be driving drowsy. For example, the driver may have stopped but instead of sleeping, he or she may have spent the time reading or watching videos.

In cases like these, a skilled truck accident attorney can argue that the driver should have known he or she was fatigued, and he or she should have gotten off the road. By not sensing his or her body's limitations, the driver put you in danger and was negligent even though no laws were technically broken.

3. Driver meets legal criteria but lacks critical experience

The legal requirements to becoming a truck driver are relatively simple. Drivers only need a CDL (commercial driver's license) to legally work in the industry. Beyond that, different companies have different requirements for their drivers. Some won't hire felons or drivers with DUIs on their records, but in a pinch, other companies may hire these drivers.

If you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a truck, you and your truck accident attorney need to look past whether or not the truck driver had the legal amount of required training. Instead, you also need to look at whether or not the driver could reasonably be considered a safe driver.

If you and your attorney can show that the company who hired the driver should not have hired the driver due to inexperience or other issues, you may be able to prove that the trucking company was liable for your accident. In other cases, your truck accident attorney may be able to prove that the company was negligent by putting an under trained driver on the road.

4. Inspected truck with faulty parts or unwieldy loads

Truck driving companies are required to inspect their trucks on a regular basis. After an accident, a trucking company may try to avoid liability by showing the victim or the victim's attorney a copy of their inspection schedule.

However, just because the company went through the motions of the inspection does not ensure their trucks are all safe. If an inspector was distracted while doing the inspection, he or she may have overlooked something, and if you can find that issue – whether it is an uneven- or over-loaded trailer or brakes that need replacing – you may be able to hold the company liable.

Similarly, if the inspector looked over everything and it looked fine but there was really an underlying issue, you may be able to hold the manufacturer responsible. Defective parts ranging from tires to hoses to lights to steering axles can all cause accidents.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a trucking accident, don't assume that the absence of a broken law means you cannot be compensated. You should still contact a truck accident attorney from a firm like Arrington Schelin & Munsey PC, and this professional can help you see who is liable and why.



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