In your standard car crash, you have two vehicles and two drivers. It’s relatively easy for insurance companies and courts to assign blame. The blame generally lies with one or the other drivers, or it may lie with both to varying degrees.

Commercial truck accidents are more complicated. Not only are trucks larger and deadlier, but they haul a host of rules and regulations along with their freight. The blame for truck accidents may lie in part with the trucking company, the truck’s manufacturer or even a third-party maintenance company. This makes it harder to determine with truck accidents where the fault should really lie.

The Large Truck Crash Causation Study

Several years back, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published a groundbreaking study into the leading causes of commercial truck crashes. This Large Truck Crash Causation Study explored the events that led to truck crashes, as well as the factors contributing to those events.

The events that most commonly led to truck accidents were, in descending order:

  • Vehicles straying out of their lanes or leaving the road altogether
  • Loss of control due to speeding, cargo shifts, mechanical failures or other issues
  • Trucks rear-ending the vehicles ahead of them

The report then explored why these events took place and found that 87% were due to driver error. In descending order, the report found that:

  • 38% of the accidents owed to poor decisions, such as speeding or tailgating
  • 28% owed to driver distraction and inattentiveness
  • 12% owed to the driver’s failure to respond because he or she was asleep, had suffered a heart attack or was otherwise incapacitated
  • 10% owed to problems with the vehicles, most often with the brakes

Notably, even when the FMCSA cites “driver error,” that error may not lie entirely with the driver. Trucking companies may be liable when they ask drivers to work more hours than rules allow. Driver fatigue is a common problem in the trucking industry. And a recent rise in trucking accidents prompted the FMCSA to reconsider a mandatory 30-minute break that truckers said forced them to speed.

The truth is key to your recovery

To those injured in truck accidents, the ways that insurance companies and courts assess blame stop being abstract concerns. They become very real and very important processes along the path to recovery.

If you or your loved one suffer a serious injury in a truck accident, you want to dig to the root of the problem. Identifying each person or company at fault can help you fight a lowball insurance offer. You can pursue an award that accounts for your medical bills, ongoing pain and damaged lifestyle.