Blind Spot Truck Accidents
Driving a large, commercial truck requires a special set of driving skills because of the physical differences between a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck. One of the most dangerous differences is the large blind spots created by a long truck trailer. Truck drivers who negligently fail to account for this difference can be held liable for any accident that occurs as a result. At the Dolman Law Group, our experienced truck accident attorneys have the skill necessary to help injury victims hold truck drivers and transportation companies accountable for accidents caused by negligence.
Why Blind Spots Are So Dangerous For Truck Drivers
Many passenger vehicle drivers assume that truck drivers, having a higher vantage point, have a better view of traffic surrounding their vehicle. This is not the case. Trucks carrying long trailers have long, corresponding blind spots to the right and left of the trailer. Many truck owners attempt to remind other drivers of this fact by placing signs on the truck, which warn drivers that unless they can see the truck’s mirrors, the truck driver cannot see them. The longer a car stays in a truck driver’s blind spot, the less likely the truck driver is to be aware of the car’s presence. This makes it less likely that the truck driver will change lanes or turn without realizing the car is there and without taking any evasive actions to avoid a collision.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides safety tips for dealing with truck driver’s blind spots. In addition to staying out of the “no zones” (blind spots on the sides, front, and back of the truck), road users are advised to use extra caution while passing and being passed by large trucks. Never assume that a truck driver can see smaller vehicles during these maneuvers. Drivers may need to use their horns or headlights in order to alert truck drivers to their presence. Similarly, truck drivers who are turning, backing up, or changing lanes may also be less able to see smaller vehicles nearby. All road users should use caution during such changes. Finally, road users should allow for a greater following distance when traveling behind a truck. The longer blind spots mean that truck drivers cannot see smaller vehicles immediately behind their trailers. A longer following distance also allows other drivers more time to react in the event that the truck driver swerves, slams on the brakes, or makes other unexpected movements.
Who Is Responsible for an Accident Caused By a Large Truck Blind Spot?
Like any accident, determining who is at fault for a truck blind spot accident requires a careful analysis of the specific facts of the accident. Legal responsibility (“liability”) can be assigned entirely to either driver or apportioned between the drivers. Thus, a jury could determine that a truck driver failed to check his blind spots, but that the other driver was following more closely than was safe. In such event, the jury might assign 50 percent of the fault to each driver. The injured driver would then be able to recover only half the value of her losses from the truck driver (who was only half at fault for causing the accident). Apportioning liability is a common area of dispute between personal injury victims and claims adjusters for the defendant’s insurance company. It becomes even more complicated when more than two drivers are involved in an accident. In that instance, it is especially important for the victim to be represented by an experienced personal injury attorney who can effectively present evidence of the defendant’s negligence to the insurance company or if necessary, to a jury at trial.
A transportation company that hires a negligent truck driver can also be held liable for the damage caused by an accident. This is because trucking companies, like other employers, are legally responsible for any negligence committed by their employees in the course of their work duties. Commercial truck owners are also required to carry higher insurance coverage on commercial vehicles than regular drivers must carry on passenger vehicles. For this reason, many truck accident victims end up filing a claim against the owner of the vehicle or the transportation company that employed the negligent driver at the time of the accident.
In addition, sometimes outside factors beyond the control of either driver cause an accident. Poor road maintenance, debris in the roadway, defective brakes or other vehicle parts, weather conditions, and many other circumstances can also be legal causes of a car accident. When these conditions can be traced to a specific individual or company, an injury victim can seek compensation from that source.
For example, if a construction company negligently leaves loose nails in the roadway after performing road work, the nails may cause a blowout, which in turn may cause an accident. If the nails can be traced to that same construction company, it can be held liable for the injuries caused by the accident. Unfortunately, in many cases road debris cannot be traced to a specific source. In such a case, the plaintiff is unable to seek damages from the unknown third party, but the defendant can still use the evidence in order to limit his or her own liability. This is because the defendant is liable for only that portion of damages which is attributable to his or her own fault. Liability of a “non-party at fault” (such as an unknown source of road debris) reduces the portion of liability assigned to drivers involved in an accident. That means the plaintiff is left unable to collect on this unassignable portion of liability. This is why it is important to have legal advice when an insurance company is assessing liability determinations.
The law provides compensation for the victims of truck accidents caused by someone else’s negligence. Accident victims should have the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney to help navigate the unique challenges of a truck accident case that may involve the negligence of multiple parties in addition to the negligence of the truck driver. For decades, the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have helped truck accident injury victims protect their legal rights to recover compensation. Call our office at (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Clearwater personal injury attorney. We fight hard to help accident victims protect their legal rights.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 3375