A dump truck or tractor-trailer is considered a commercial vehicle. A commercial vehicle is one that is driven for business purposes. Often, this involves a large semi transporting goods or products over long distances, but it can also include other trucks such as dump trucks engaged in transportation of heavy loads of construction material, dirt or rock. There are many federal regulations on the trucking industry that are designed to protect motorist from unsafe vehicles and overworked and under trained truck drivers.
Accidents involving commercial vehicles raise issues not found in auto accident cases. Commercial vehicle crashes involve federal regulations governing these vehicles and complicated insurance coverage issues. Many different factors can cause or contribute to a dump truck or tractor-trailer crash.
What Are Some Issues That Cause Dump Truck and Tractor-Trailer Crashes?
Because of the size and weight of dump trucks and tractor-trailers, commercial vehicle accidents often result in significant damage to other vehicles and serious injuries to others. Dump trucks and tractor-trailers are taller than most other vehicles causing serious injury or death to those in a car. There are many factors to be considered in a commercial vehicle crash. Some of those factors are:
- The safety record of the truck driver
- The safety record of the trucking company
- The qualifications of the truck driver to drive that vehicle
- The hiring practices of the trucking company
- The background check the company did to ensure that driver was safe
The physical and mental condition of the driver at the time of the crash
- The condition of the commercial vehicle at the time of the crash
What Are the Most Common Causes of Dump Truck and Tractor-Trailer Crashes?
The most common causes of dump truck and tractor crashes are brake problems and drivers traveling too fast. Fatigue and pressure from the carrier, tire problems and distractions are also significant causes of commercial vehicle crashes. The single most important factor in reducing the number of crashes involving commercial vehicles is driver training. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has determined that driver distraction is a problem for commercial truck drivers. The most significant distractions are cell telephone usage and texting.
Dump trucks typically haul between 26 and 27 short tons of aggregate per load. Each truck is capable of 3-5 loads per day. Dump trucks are normally built for some amount of off-road or construction site driving. The driver is protected by the chassis and height of the driver’s seat. Bumpers are either placed high or omitted for added ground clearance. The disadvantage is that in a collision with a standard car, the entire motor section or luggage compartment goes under the truck. If this happens, the passengers in the car may be injured more severely than collisions with another car.
Dump trucks and tractor-trailers are often operated without proper driver training or vehicle maintenance, making them a frequent source of commercial vehicle accidents. Both the truck driver and the company that owns the truck might be at fault in a dump truck or tractor-trailer crash.
Dump truck and tractor-trailer drivers are often paid by the load, creating an incentive to haul more loads. Some drivers try to increase their pay by making as many runs in a day as possible, which often leads to speeding and reckless driving.
How Common Are Dump Truck and Tractor-Trailer Accidents?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 415,000 reported crashes involved commercial vehicles in the United States in 2015. Those accidents resulted in a total of 3,852 fatalities. According to FMCSA, in Florida, there were 9,028 large trucks involved in 8,529 crashed including 270 fatalities and 4,199 injuries in 2018. Errors, mistakes, and negligence contribute to more than half of all truck crashes. An estimated 15.5 million trucks operate in the U.S., two million are tractor-trailers.
Can the Driver’s Employer Be Held Responsible in the Accident?
If the driver is an employee, the company can be held responsible for any negligent actions the driver commits while on the job. Some ways the company can be held responsible are:
- Inadequate training for drivers
- Failing to perform safety inspections
- Exceeding legal limit for truck weight with cargo
- Pressuring drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines
Companies that hire contract drivers may be held responsible if they:
- Provide trucks that do not meet safety inspection standards
- Use unskilled, under-trained drivers
- Pressure drivers to haul oversized loads
- Promote driver fatigue with unrealistic deadlines for hauling loads
- Require a driver to do something like texting, or talking while driving
The company can be held responsible for the collision because of negligent hiring, inadequate training, or not maintaining the truck in safe and operable condition.
Occasionally, commercial vehicle accidents cause catastrophic injuries. The victims of these accidents often have huge medical bills and sometime suffer permanent disability and disfigurement. If the victim does not survive, the family or the estate may file a wrongful death claim. An attorney with trucking accident experience is needed in a dump truck or tractor-trailer case.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a dump truck or tractor-trailer accident and need help getting compensation for your injuries, call Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813 229 5353.