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Truck drivers travel the country daily, delivering goods to our industries and homes. Truckers provide us with convenient access to almost everything we need. They do this with a cheerful mindset and a willingness to go above and beyond for our convenience. Still, they are often forced into dangerous situations on the road by reckless drivers who don’t seem to care about anyone but themselves. Is the truck driver always at fault for an accident in Indiana?
Many people with little to no knowledge of commercial trucking works ask this question. For example, you may have been driving on an Indiana road one day and saw someone swerve out of their lane to avoid a semi-truck. Unfortunately, the person then lost control and crashed into an oncoming car.
Don’t worry. You are not alone! Accidents happen all the time. For example, when someone is injured in a vehicle accident caused by a semi-truck, the number one question is, “Is the truck driver at fault for the accident?” While it may be the case that you swerved to avoid them, does that mean you can automatically hold them responsible for the accident?
The answer is no. There are many scenarios where the person driving the car thinks it would be the truck driver’s fault, but the truth is much different.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a truck accident, seek medical attention and consult with an Indianapolis truck accident attorney to learn more about your legal options. For example, you may learn you have to file a claim or a lawsuit not against a person, but a trucking company, a manufacturer, the municipality, etc.
What You Need to Understand about Truck Accidents
Even if you think you were reckless and not following the road rules, this does not mean that you are automatically at fault for an accident. You could hold liable another traffic participant, a defective car part manufacturer, even the authorities for road issues (lack of proper signs or potholes), etc.
Similarly, it is important to remember that truck drivers face the same issues you do on the road. On the one hand, they need to follow federal regulations. All of them are trained to drive safely on our roads. They know what they can and cannot do on the road. On the other hand, trucking companies push them beyond their capabilities, forcing them to disobey the HoS regulations. Moreover, trucking companies sometimes fail to inspect their fleet, blame the drivers for the truck’s issues, or install low-quality parts on their vehicles.
The bottom line is that when you get into an accident with a truck, the trucker may be the least responsible party in a long chain of liable parties.
If you were injured and are unsure who is at fault for an accident, it is vital to call the police for assistance. The police will be able to help you figure out a plan to make sure all responsible parties pay for any damages. This will include the person driving the car, the trucking company, and any other parties that may be at fault.
When Is the Truck Driver at Fault for an Accident?
Although crash reports show that unsafe, inattentive drivers cause most accidents, there are still times when a trucker may be held responsible for an accident. Here are a few circumstances that indicate a truck driver may be responsible for an accident in Indiana.
The Truck Driver Was Traveling Too Fast
Speeding is one of the most common causes of truck and car accidents if people go significantly faster than traffic flow. If you’re driving the truck, you must adhere to all speed limits and safe driving practices. It would be best if you never drove recklessly or unsafely.
The Truck Driver Was Distracted
Distraction is a huge cause of truck accidents and other car accidents. Anything that forces your attention away from the road can be a distraction, including:
- Eating or drinking
- Changing the radio station
- Looking at your phone
As a truck driver, it’s your job to always stay on your toes and keep your eyes peeled and your hands on the wheel.
The Truck Driver Was Fatigued
Sometimes, truck drivers spend more time on the road than regulations accept. Fatigue and drowsy driving are among the major causes of traffic accidents and fatalities. Maybe the company requires you to clock in extra hours and miles. Maybe you want to record more mileage for more money. It matters less. When your time runs out for the day, get some rest. Even if your clock is still working, but you feel sleepy, confused, ill, or unfocused, get some rest.
Accidents happen every single day to drivers of every kind. Truckers are no exception. It’s important to remember that truck drivers are still people with families and children, just like the rest of us, and they shouldn’t be subjected to reckless behavior from other drivers on the road. If needed, they should have the right to pursue legal action against the at-fault driver to seek compensation for their injuries. If a truck driver is responsible for your damages and injuries, your attorney will fight for your rights to compensatory damages. You may be surprised to learn that if you go to trial, a jury might award punitive damages against the trucking company that does not respect the state/federal rules or its employees.
Michael Hawkins is a legal journalist with a passion for education. His published articles and guides aim to help the public understand their rights, find the best legal solutions, and get actionable answers and tips to their problems. Versed in personal injury and civil law matters, Michael is not afraid to tackle criminal law issues either.