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Determining Fault After a Trucking Accident

Accidents involving trucks generally cause more severe injuries than collisions involving only automobiles. While trucking accidents make up a small percentage of all accidents, the consequences can be severe. Over the last decade from 2002 to 2012, trucking accident fatalities have decreased by 17% from 4,587 to 3,802.

Being informed about trucking accidents and liability can help you determine if you have a case and how to make your case if you have been involved in an accident. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you better understand the claims process and provide support as you walk through the process.

Laws Governing the Trucking Industry

Federal laws that create standards under which the industry must operate govern the trucking industry. Trucking companies, the owners of these companies, and truck drivers are governed under these regulations written out in Title 49 in the Code of Federal Regulations. Each state also has a department of transportation, which governs state-specific trucking regulations.

Causes of Truck Accidents

Mistakes on the part of the driver are the most common cause of accidents involving trucks. A report released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revealed that truck drivers are ten times more likely to be the cause of an accident when compared to other factors and that driver mistakes are involved in 88% of trucking accidents. Driver error includes:

  • Driving under the influence (oftentimes prescription drugs are involved in accidents),
  • Distracted driving,
  • Speeding,
  • Driving an unknown road,
  • Most commonly, fatigue and lack of sleep.

Following driver error, mechanical failure is the next common most cause of trucking accidents. Defective parts, manufacturing or design errors, or a failure to maintain equipment may cause mechanical failures. Examples of mechanical failure include:

  • Problems with brakes: problems in front brakes can cause jackknifing. Failure to perform adjustments make cause brake failure,
  • Worn tires causing a blowout,
  • Errors in loading leading to a rollover accident,
  • Poorly attached trailer,
  • Poor rear and side lighting,
  • Transmission failure,
  • Problems with steering.


Following a truck accident, it can be difficult to determine who is responsible for the accident and subsequent injuries. Responsibility may be on the truck driver, the owner of the truck, the individual or company that leased the truck, the manufacturer of truck parts, or the loader of the cargo in the truck. Under federal law, trucking companies are liable for accidents involving a truck on which the company’s placard or name is displayed. In the past, trucking companies attempted to separate themselves from liability by leasing trucks and hiring independent contractors but current law holds companies responsible regardless of lease agreements and whether or not the driver was independently contracted.

Contact Goldstein & Hayes, P.C.

If you or a loved one was injured in an accident involving a truck, you may be able to hold those responsible for losses related to medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Experienced Atlanta metro area attorneys at Goldstein & Hayes can help you understand how to file a claim following the accident. It is critical to receive guidance from a knowledgeable attorney, so please contact us today for a free consultation.