Every motorist has a duty to operate their vehicle safely so as not to put other drivers or passengers at risk on the road. Commercial truck drivers, owner-operators, and trucking companies are held by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to an even higher standard of safety than other motorists. The FMCSA holds drivers and their employers responsible for safe operation, regular maintenance, vehicle inspections, and records of repair for commercial vehicles in order to reduce the number of accidents, injuries, and fatalities on U.S. highways.
Potentially Dangerous Maintenance Issues
Commercial vehicle maintenance issues that could lead to an accident include:
Accident Missing or Burnt-out Lights
Defective headlights, taillights, backup lights, or turn signals reduce visibility for the commercial driver and make it hard for other motorists to see the commercial vehicle, especially on unlighted roads at night or in bad weather.
Broken or missing reflectors can make a large truck parked on the side of a dark rural road essentially invisible to other motorists driving nearby.
Worn, bald, or mismatched tires affect the handling of a commercial truck and increase the chances of a blowout on the road.
Failure of a truck’s braking system to slow or stop the vehicle can cause rollover accidents and multi-car crashes.
Old, worn, or rusted axles that can’t support the weight of a truck and its cargo can bend or brake at high speeds and cause a horrific pile-up.
Loose and Shifty Cargo
If a commercial truck’s cargo is not properly loaded and secured, it could shift and make the truck hard to control, especially on curves at high speeds. Cargo that falls from the truck could hit other cars and cause serious damage and injury.
Because of the sheer size and weight of an 18-wheeler (up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded) compared to an average-sized passenger car (approximately 4,000 pounds), a maintenance-related collision involving the two is likely to cause major damage to the smaller car and catastrophic injuries to its occupants.
Truck Crash Injuries
Injuries commonly sustained by passenger car occupants in a collision with a semi-truck include broken bones, lacerations and scarring, whiplash and other neck injuries, internal bleeding, organ damage, burns, crushed limbs that might have to be amputated, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and back and spinal cord damage that could lead to paralysis. Unfortunately, a significant number of truck accidents are fatal for the occupants of the smaller vehicle. If you’ve lost a loved one in a maintenance-related Sioux Falls truck accident, an experienced lawyer can help you file a wrongful death suit against the at-fault driver and other liable parties.
If you’re an injured survivor of an accident caused by someone else, you’re entitled to file an insurance claim against the liable parties for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the at-fault vehicle is a commercial truck, there could be more than one liable party, including:
- The truck driver, who has a duty to drive safely, keep logs books and inspection records, and follow all FMCSA regulations
- The trucker’s employer or the truck owner, who is required to maintain the truck and keep it in a safe condition
- A mechanic or repair service responsible for the maintenance of the truck
- Cargo loading personnel in charge of loading the truck’s cargo safely and securely
Responsibility for your damages might be shared by two or more of these potential defendants, each of whom could have a different insurer.
Filing insurance claims against multiple defendants, determining each defendant’s percentage of fault for your damages, demanding fair compensation from each, negotiating for a reasonable award, possibly filing lawsuits against multiple parties, and fighting in court for just compensation if necessary would be very difficult for the average person under normal circumstances. If you’re injured, perhaps on medication, and recovering from serious injuries, doing all of the above successfully on your own would probably be impossible. An experienced truck accident lawyer can take these burdens off your shoulders and work to help you seek justice while you focus on your recovery.
Have You Been Injured in a South Dakota Truck Accident?
An experienced truck accident lawyer can investigate to determine whether the wreck was maintenance-related and hold all liable parties accountable for your damages. Contact us online or call us at 605-306-4100 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.