The person or party ultimately at fault for a motor vehicle collision will be the one with financial responsibility for the property damage and injuries that result. Determining fault in the wake of a commercial truck crash may require a careful review of police documentation and your own recollections of the crash.
According to an analysis of crash data by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the commercial vehicle is one at fault in 55% of all commercial crashes. More than half of the collisions will be the fault of the big vehicle, but the driver isn’t always to blame.
According to the same analysis, commercial driver mistakes or performance issues cause 87% of the crashes where the big truck is at fault. That leaves another 13% caused by other factors. When is a commercial vehicle responsible for a crash but not because of something the driver did?
Environmental factors sometimes play a role
In roughly 3% of the crashes the FMCSA analyzed, environmental factors such as inclement weather or structural deficiencies in the roads played a role in the causation of the wreck. When neither driver could have prevented the crash because of road conditions, the wreck may ultimately be due to environmental issues and not the fault of any individual driver involved.
What about the remaining 10%?
Roughly one out of every 10 commercial vehicle collisions caused by a big truck is the result of something wrong with the vehicle itself. If the semitruck is owner-operated, then the driver is the one who is ultimately responsible for the faulty maintenance of a vehicle with bad brakes.
However, many commercial drivers are employees of bigger companies that maintain a fleet of vehicles. That business may ultimately be at fault for its inadequate maintenance of one of its vehicles. Other times, the crash might be the result of the truck driver losing control of the vehicle because a client improperly loaded a trailer that they had to haul. In cases where an employer or a third party has responsibility for the crash, there may be additional opportunities for compensation.
Considering all of your rights after a commercial vehicle wreck can help you limit the long-term impact it has on your life.