Sharing the road with large semi-trucks is dangerous for all drivers. Due to the wide disparity in size between a truck and a smaller vehicle, collisions often cause serious injury or death. Fatalities from these types of accidents in the United States average about 5,000 per year. Because their vehicles are so dangerous, semi-truck drivers have a responsibility to operate using a reasonable amount of care and caution. If they fail to do so, they may be acting negligently.
Motorists injured in an accident with a semi truck must prove negligence, whether it is due to reckless driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failing to properly signal, driving unsafely during bad conditions, or a number of other irresponsible acts. In some cases, a third party might be at fault, especially if the accident was caused by faulty equipment, unsafe road conditions, malfunctioning traffic control signals, or improper signage. Often, when an accident involves a truck and another vehicle, the trucking company is liable for damage. Due to a legal theory called respondeat superior, the company has a form of control over drivers who act within the boundaries of the employer-employee relationship. If the driver is a contractor hired by a larger trucking company, the amount of supervision the company provides is important in establishing third-party liability. Courts could find trucking companies liable if they find that they did not provide adequate training in regards to safety, defensive driving, and other important driving techniques. Some companies require their drivers to keep unrealistic schedules, causing them to hurry. In many cases, drivers have a financial incentive to go as fast as possible or to drive for long periods of time. In addition, trucks are very expensive to maintain and repair, which may cause some companies to cut corners with upkeep. If a piece of equipment malfunctions due to improper maintenance, it puts other drivers in danger and serious accidents may occur. Another party that could be liable is the manufacturer of any hazardous materials the truck is transporting. If this company has not fully disclosed that there were hazardous materials in the load, it may be liable if the material catches on fire or is somehow released and causes property damage, injury, or death.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with a large truck, call a Philadelphia trucking accident attorney today at the personal injury law firm of Galfand Berger LLP at 800-222-8792.