Who is Liable for Injuries Caused by Commercial Truck Accidents in Utah?
Trucking plays a huge role in the U.S. transportation sector, bringing in more than 83% of the industry’s revenue. Unfortunately, in the effort to complete journeys quickly, truck drivers sometimes violate traffic laws or safety standards that are designed to cut down on accidents, such as limits on how long truckers can drive in a shift. When fatigue, distraction, or other problems compromise a trucker’s performance, it is only a matter of time before a devastating accident occurs. But who is held liable for the injuries that result? The driver? The trucking company? Or another party altogether? In short, it depends on the circumstances of the crash, as Salt Lake City truck accident lawyer Darwin Overson explores here.
Who is Responsible for Truck Accidents Caused by Driver Errors Like Speeding?
There can be little doubt that driver errors are responsible for the vast majority of automotive accidents in the United States, including car accidents and motorcycle accidents. This fact has been established and repeatedly reestablished by research dating back more than 35 years.
In 1979, a Department of Transportation (DOT) report called the Tri-Level Study of the Causes of Traffic Accidents found that human errors caused anywhere from 90% to 93% of vehicular accidents. In 2001, this fact was reconfirmed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which found the actual percentage could be as high as 99%. It was reconfirmed for a third time in 2008, when the NHTSA estimated the figure to be around 93%.
Even with slight variations in the data, it’s easy to see the overarching pattern: human mistakes cause or contribute to virtually every vehicular accident in the United States.
Often, these mistakes occur behind the wheel. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver errors are responsible for 87% of truck accidents, which closely aligns with the figures put forth by the DOT and NHTSA.
According to the FMSCA, the top 15 most common driver errors in large truck crashes nationwide were:
- Driving while intoxicated by alcohol (1%)
- Driving while intoxicated by controlled substances (2%)
- Internal driver distraction (2%)
- Driver illness (3%)
- Jackknifing (5%)
- Tailgating/following too closely, which can lead to a rear-end collision (5%)
- External driver distraction (8%)
- Not paying attention (9%)
- Making illegal traffic maneuvers (9%)
- Feeling pressured by carriers to complete faster journeys, which can lead to speeding or ignoring safety standards (10%)
- Driver fatigue (13%)
- Insufficient surveillance (14%)
- Using over-the-counter drugs (17%)
- Not being familiar with the road (22%)
- Speeding or otherwise driving “too fast for conditions” (23%)
Manufacturer Liability for Big Rig Crashes Caused by Defective Auto Parts
Human errors are responsible for a large quantity of the commercial trucking accidents that occur annually in Utah. However, these errors don’t always involve driving. Sometimes, an accident’s cause — which might begin to develop days, weeks, or months before the actual crash — can be traced back to faulty truck parts or substandard vehicle maintenance, not unsafe driving habits. In fact, the FMCSA study mentioned above lists brake problems as the number one risk factor behind trucking accidents, with an estimated 41,000 trucks affected.
Commercial trucks are immense, complex machines, and, like all complex machines, require diligent maintenance, inspection, and repair. When maintenance crews perform their duties carelessly or incompletely — perhaps rushing to complete a task, or neglecting to fill out the appropriate paperwork for a replacement part — the vehicle can become difficult or impossible to control. In this type of scenario, liability may rest with the negligent maintenance worker, and/or the supervisor who reviewed and approved their work.
In other cases, it’s not the fault of a careless maintenance worker, but a careless manufacturer. Due to issues like manufacturing errors, design flaws, and improper storage conditions, some automotive products are defective from the moment they leave the factory or even the blueprint. Manufacturers of truck parts (and indeed all types of products) have a responsibility to test their products and ensure that they are reasonably safe for use as intended. If a product has hazards or risks which cannot be eliminated, they should be clearly indicated with a prominent warning label. This aspect of personal injury law is called product liability.
Do You Have a Claim? Contact Our Salt Lake City Truck Injury Lawyers
Determining liability for a truck accident in Utah can be a complex task, particularly if there was more than one cause. When defendants and insurance companies attempt to deny liability, experienced legal representation by a knowledgeable truck crash attorney can make the difference between getting compensated and being burdened with medical debt. Even if your own actions contributed to the crash, you can potentially get compensated for a partial fault accident in Utah.
If your accident was caused by a negligent driver or other party, they should be held responsible — not you. Let Utah personal injury lawyer Darwin Overson fight to achieve that goal for you. With decades of experience handling crash injury claims in Utah, Darwin is prepared to aggressively challenge any insurance company or trucking company on your behalf.
To set up a free legal consultation with Darwin, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143. Darwin represents injury victims throughout Utah, including Salt Lake City, West Valley City, Provo, Orem, Layton, West Jordan, and more.