Large-truck crashes that involve passenger vehicles are increasingly common in the United States, and Arkansas is no exception.
The number of commercial trucks involved in fatal collisions has increased 42 percent since 2009, according to recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and the majority of those killed were passenger vehicle occupants.
A 2014 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that large-truck accidents accounted for more than 11 percent of all traffic-related fatalities in Arkansas.
Semi-truck crashes—including those involving logging trucks—are common in the greater Little Rock area due to the interchange of major interstates and the heavy commercial traffic that use these highways.
Recovering compensation for injuries suffered in a crash with a semi, log truck or other large commercial truck can be difficult because multiple parties—including the truck driver and trucking company—may be liable.
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a collision with a large truck, the Little Rock truck accident lawyers at the Minton Law Firm are ready to help.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Determining liability for a large truck accident can be challenging because there are so many factors that can contribute to a crash.
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
- Driving while fatigued
- Inadequate driver training
- Overloaded or otherwise improperly loaded cargo
- Inadequate vehicle maintenance
- Faulty vehicle or defective vehicle parts
The FMCSA has established various regulations in its efforts to reduce commercial truck accidents, including rules that establish cargo limits and cap drivers’ time behind the wheel. But some drivers and trucking companies attempt to skirt these guidelines in efforts to increase their profits, which can lead to deadly crashes.
Liability in Large-Truck Accidents
Many large-truck crashes are the result of driver negligence. However, when it comes to tractor-trailers and other types of large commercial vehicles, additional factors may play a role.
Responsible parties in large-truck crashes may include but are not limited to:
- Truck drivers: Driver error is the cause of many truck accidents, and driver exhaustion is a major contributor in this category as truck operators often spend extensive hours behind the wheel, sometimes surpassing the hours allotted by the FMCSA guidelines. In fact, the FMCSA found that driver fatigue is a factor in about 13 percent of all commercial truck accidents. Other driver-related issues include distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and driving too fast for conditions.
- Trucking companies: In some cases, trucking companies may be held liable for crashes caused by their drivers. Factors surrounding trucking company negligence can include incomplete or missed inspections, or setting unrealistic expectations or schedules for drivers among other issues.
- Truck and/or trailer owners: If the truck operator or trucking company does not own the vehicle and/or trailer involved in the crash, the actual owner may share liability in some situations. For example, commercial vehicles like semis and tractor-trailers require more maintenance than most passenger vehicles. If the owner failed to perform the required routine maintenance or make necessary repairs, he or she may be responsible for damages that occur in a crash.
- Vehicle or vehicle parts manufacturers: Commercial trucks are sometimes put into service with design flaws or other inherent defects. Similarly, some vehicle components prove faulty after they have been installed in trucks or tractor-trailers. When a defective vehicle or vehicle part triggers a crash, the manufacturer may be held accountable for resulting damages.
- Cargo loaders or shipping agents: Like trucking companies and truck operators, commercial vehicle cargo loaders must follow federal standards regarding weight limits and payload balance. Trucks that are overloaded or carry unbalanced loads increase the risk for accidents and can also impact the severity of injuries that occur in the event of a crash.
In Arkansas, liability in truck accidents may also be affected by the state’s so-called “modified comparative fault” law. Modified comparative fault is a legal principle that impacts accidents in which more than one driver may be at fault.
Under comparative fault, a percentage of liability is assigned to each driver believed to have contributed to a crash.
Arkansas uses a 50-percent bar rule, in which an accident victim cannot recover damages from other involved drivers if he or she is at least 50 percent responsible for the collision.
How a Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a crash that involved a large commercial vehicle—such as a tractor-trailer, cargo van or logging truck—it’s a good idea to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable attorney.
Because so many factors and liable parties may be involved, it can be difficult for injury victims to get fair compensation without help. Furthermore, trucking companies and their insurance providers have their own attorneys who often aggressively fight claims from injury victims.
As a former insurance adjuster, attorney Justin Minton understands the tactics insurance companies use to limit or deny claims. He also knows that initial insurance company settlement offers are rarely enough for injury victims’ long-term needs.
That’s why the team at the Minton Law Firm is dedicated to helping injury victims and their families get the financial security they need to cope with medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
We strive to achieve a fair settlement out of court, but we also have the resources and courtroom experience necessary to take your case to trial when settlement offers are too low.
Our lawyers offer free consultations to help you understand your options, and we don’t charge for our services unless we recover compensation on your behalf.
Our office is located in Benton, but we are proud to serve clients from the greater Little Rock area and across Arkansas.