What truck driver or trucking company actions may represent negligence?

Truckers or their employers may be considered negligent for lacking proper qualifications, violating traffic laws or failing to observe federal regulations.

In 2014, large trucks and other commercial vehicles played a role in 33,061 reported accidents in Dallas and other parts of Texas. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, these crashes caused 7,685 reported injuries, including over 1,500 incapacitating ones, and 588 deaths. Sadly, many of the victims may have been other road users, who often suffer the worst harm in large truck crashes.

For these individuals, the physical, emotional and financial consequences of a serious truck crash can be devastating. This makes it important for injury victims or people who have lost loved ones in truck accidents to understand when they may be able to seek recourse. If an accident involved the following factors, the truck driver or the trucking company might be considered negligent and liable for any resulting losses.

Regulatory violations

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes various regulations that truck drivers across the nation must comply with. These regulations pertain to weekly working hours, mandatory rest periods, loading and securing of freight, vehicle inspections, mandatory maintenance and more. Intentional or accidental violations, which can greatly raise the risk of accidents, may constitute negligence.

Disturbingly, FMCSA data indicates that violations of federal safety regulations aren’t especially uncommon. According to CNBC News, in 2012, over 2.1 million trucks – or more than one out of five of these vehicles – were immediately removed from service after inspections due to safety violations. That same year, over 171,150 drivers were taken out of service for the same reason.

Reckless driving

Truck drivers may be considered negligent when they fail to observe traffic laws or show reasonable care toward other drivers. FMCSA data shows that this is also a widespread problem. In 2015, the following dangerous behaviors were among the most frequently reported:

• Speeding – FMCSA inspections found at least 83,800 violations in which drivers exceeded the speed limit by 6 to 14 mph. In over 13,600 cases, drivers were caught traveling at least 15 mph over the speed limit.

• Failure to obey traffic signals or signs – this was a factor in over 42,200 violations.

• Cell phone use – altogether, over 20,000 reported violations involved this form of distracted driving.

Other dangerous behaviors that were cited less frequently included tailgating, changing lanes improperly, speeding in construction zones, failing to yield and driving under the influence. All of these actions might be considered negligence, given the danger that they put other motorists in.

Inadequate driver qualifications

Trucking companies may also be considered negligent if they employ drivers who lack proper training or credentials. According to FMCSA data, this is another fairly common issue. In 2015, over 20,000 reported violations involved drivers who didn’t even hold commercial driver’s licenses. In more than 10,000 other cases, drivers failed to meet the FMCSA’s physical requirements or did not hold valid licenses for the vehicle that they were driving.

Get advice after an accident

Although these breaches represent common examples of negligence, this list is not exclusive. Anyone who has been injured in Texas during an accident in which a truck driver or company was likely at fault may benefit from discussing the specifics with an attorney. An attorney may be able to investigate whether a trucker or company acted negligently and, if appropriate, assist the victim in seeking recourse.

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