Either of the drivers involved in a two-vehicle crash could technically be to blame for the wreck, depending on the circumstances. When there is a collision between a commercial vehicle and a passenger vehicle, the truck may have been the vehicle that caused the crash in some cases.
While most people rush to the conclusion that the truck driver would inevitably have made a major mistake that caused the crash, a federal analysis of large vehicle collisions indicates otherwise. There are numerous, relatively common, scenarios in which the truck may be the vehicle at fault for the crash but the driver isn’t technically to blame.
What are three of the most common reasons for a commercial vehicle to cause a crash where the driver would not be ultimately responsible?
1. The driver has a medical emergency
According to the report on the cause of truck crashes published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), non-performance is a serious issue that causes up to 12% of the collisions where the large truck is to blame for the wreck.
In some of those cases, non-performance means the driver fell asleep at the wheel. Other times, it may be a heart attack, a stroke or even a sudden allergic reaction that leaves a driver incapacitated and unable to properly operate the vehicle.
2. Poorly-maintained vehicles
Many commercial drivers are employees or contractors that work for a commercial transportation company as employees. They are not owner-operators but instead drive fleet vehicles.
Their employer is responsible for maintaining the fleet. However, in as many as 10% of large truck crashes, issues with the vehicle’s condition could be to blame for the wreck. Bad brakes and worn tires are among the maintenance issues that could lead to a driver potentially losing control or being unable to perform a maneuver that might prevent a crash.
3. Improperly-loaded trailers
Both transportation companies in the clients that hire them often load the trailers that commercial drivers haul. If the driver doesn’t have proper information about the contents of the load or if someone puts far more weight on one side of the trailer than the other, the vehicle has an increased risk of a jackknife incident or similar if you wear they cannot properly control the vehicle because of the movement of the trailer.
It is important that you understand who is actually to blame for a crash if you hope to pursue justice through an insurance claim or a civil lawsuit. Learning more about what causes commercial crashes can help you understand the best steps to take in your own case.