If you own or are thinking of starting a trucking company know that you are going to be a magnet for attorneys and people looking to capitalize on any accident you may have. Today I am going to try help you minimize this risk by looking at this problem from the side of a victim that was just in an accident with you or one of your trucks.
Why Trucking Insurance can be so Expensive!
Given the sheer size of semi trucks, accidents involving them generally result in more serious injuries and body damage to vehicles.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration approximately 510,000 crashes were reported to police nationwide in 2019 that involved large trucks. Of those, 114,000 resulted in injury. In 82% of those cases, the fatalities were not occupants of the large truck. That is 510,000 opportunities for you not to have the correct coverage or a mishap that could cost you your company.
Cars typically weigh 3200-6000 pounds while tractors can weigh 33,000-80,000 pounds. Large trucks also generally are taller and sit higher off the ground, which can result in cars sliding under commercial trucks in accidents at great peril to the occupants.
18 wheeler truck accident settlement claims are similar to car accident claims with a few key differences. As a trucking company owner, the stakes are high and more complicated for you in an accident. I will discuss these differences in detail so you can protect your rights.
A guide to reduce trucking insurance premiums
What Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Understanding Trucking Regulations
How attorney’s Show Fault in Semi Truck Accidents
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
What Are the Most Common Cause of Truck Accidents?
A good place to start trying to make sense of your truck accident claim is to understand some of the most common causes for them. This will help train drivers correctly to avoid potential claims.
What Are the Most Common Cause of Truck Accidents?
A good place to start trying to make sense of your truck accident claim is to understand some of the most common causes for them.
- 1). Driver Fatigue— This leads to tired truck drivers.
- 2). Failure to maintain safe following distance—
- 3). Unsafe lane change/visibility problems—
- 4). Drug or alcohol use—
- 5). Defective equipment or incorrectly loaded cargo—
Understand Duty of Care and Driver Negligence for Trucking Companies
Drivers of passenger vehicles are required by law to practice a reasonable “duty of care” to look out for one another on the road, follow traffic laws and try to avoid collisions. Because trucks are much more capable of causing catastrophic accidents truckers are held to a higher standard.
When it comes time for an insurance company or jury to determine fault in a trucking accident they will expect truckers to follow their duty of care, and in addition, they will generally look in two areas:
- Violations of state and federal trucking regulation
- Evidence of negligence
Due to this higher standard truckers need to adhere to, courts will often view any violation of regulation as negligent action.
Understand Trucking Regulations
The trucking industry in the US is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a department of the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Their regulations are lengthy and mandate how a trucker should behave in essentially all aspects of operating a commercial truck.
These regulations are recognized for their safety benefits on the roadways.
Two of the most common regulations that get violated are:
Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Requirements – Anyone operating a semi truck, tractor trailer or 18 wheeler must have completed their CDL training. These standards vary slightly state to state, but they all must meet a baseline federal DOT requirement.
CDL training teaches truckers:
- Maneuvering techniques, parking, backing up, etc.
- Defensive driving practices
- Maintenance and safety measures, etc
- How to properly handle hazardous materials
Typically included in CDL licensure is a physical fitness examination and a drug screening process.
Logbook rules – Another legal requirement placed on truckers is that they maintain a logbook. This book records information such as:
- Route details, delivery dates, etc
- Weight of the truck
- The number of hours per day a trucker is working
Here are some other things you can control to operate a safe company
- Was your trucker using their cellphone? (estimates show using a phone increases the chances of an accident by 23 times)
- Does your driver have a record of accidents or criminal behavior?
- Was your driver under the influence of medications, narcotics or alcohol?
- Did your driver fail to account for blind spots when changing lanes or parking?
- What is your drivers financial background? Do they have any large outstanding debts?
In terms of a trucking accident claim, showing that a trucker violated their duty of care, a trucking regulation , and/or traffic laws will be something attorneys try to expose.
Here is what you should do after a Trucking Insurance Accident
Truck accidents are typically more complicated than car accidents so if you’re in one be sure to follow a few best practices. These include:
- Call the police— Even if the accident seems minor call the authorities, get a police report or the responding officer’s contact information at the least.
- Seek medical attention— If you or other parties are injured get them help as soon as possible. Call an ambulance, administer first aid if you know how or get in to see a doctor first thing (if injuries are non-urgent).
- Gather information— Document everything you can from photos to witness statements to surveillance video. Take notes, the more information you have the better.
- Contact your insurance company— File a claim with your insurance carrier and be aware you might be contacted by the other party’s insurance company.
- Trucking companies held Liable and Your Best Course of Action
When it comes time to figure out who is responsible for your damages in a trucking accident, the number of possibilities is far greater than a normal car accident. If you were in a accident with your semi the possible parties that might be held liable include:
- The trucker
- The owner of the truck or tractor trailer
- The company who loaded the cargo on the truck
- The manufacturer of the truck
- The person or company who leased the truck from another party
In many cases, all these parties may all be involved with the claim.
If I haven’t scared you away I will let you know that trucking accidents are complicated, unfortunately frequent, and often result in serious injuries/fatalities. Try to minimize or eliminate the top causes of trucking accidents and your company will be successful.
- Truck accidents are often due to driver fatigue, drug use, improper cargo or unsafe lane changes.
- The key to any claim is showing fault. With truck accidents, this can be done through breach of the duty of care or violated regulations.
- After a truck accident be sure to call the police, seek medical treatment quickly, gather information and notify your insurance company in a timely manner.
- Figuring out who to claim against can be tricky but it usually boils down to the driver or the trucking company. If in doubt consult a legal professional.
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