What is a "commercial truck?"
A commercial truck is a vehicle used in the course of business and/or for the transport of commercial goods. Examples are eighteen-wheeler tractor trailers, tanker trucks, delivery vehicles, and other large freight trucks.
Why is a traffic accident involving a commercial truck more likely to cause injury than one involving passenger cars?
A typical fully-loaded large commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, while an average passenger automobile weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Due to this size disparity, and the basic laws of physics, any collision between a commercial truck and another vehicle is likely to result in serious, even fatal, injuries.
What are the most common factors in collisions between commercial trucks and automobiles?
Generally speaking, these accidents are caused by a combination of a truck's characteristics and performance capabilities (including limits associated with acceleration, braking, and visibility) and car drivers' ignorance as to those characteristics.
What is a commercial truck's "No-Zone?"
The "No-Zone" refers to the areas behind and beside a commercial truck, where the truck driver has limited or zero visibility: the left rear quarter, the right rear quarter, and directly behind the truck at a short distance.
How is a trucking company generally held responsible for one's injuries?
It depends on whether an employment relationship is established between the truck driver and the trucking company. If such a relationship is shown, the company can be held legally liable for the driver's negligence under a legal theory known as "respondeat superior." Establishing the liability of a company can become problematic when a truck driver is an independent contractor of the company. In such a situation, the key issue becomes the amount of supervision and control exercised by the company.
Is a truck driver automatically liable for a traffic accident where the big-rig "jack-knifed"?
Not necessarily. The fact that a truck jackknifes is not in itself proof of operator negligence, because many accident situations present difficulties in which there is no practical way to avoid jackknifing without risking some other catastrophe. For example, operation of a truck that has jackknifed may be held to be non-negligent where the jackknifing was due to unforeseeable slipperiness of the road, or to an abrupt turn undertaken to avoid a motorist or stalled truck.
If someone is partially at fault for the accident, how are damages determined?
It depends on the degree of fault. Under the legal doctrine known as "comparative negligence," the amount of a party's liability for the accident is determined by comparing his or her carelessness with that of the other party. That party's portion of liability determines the percentage of the resulting damages he or she must pay. In most states, a person can't recover anything if his/her own carelessness was 50% or more responsible for the accident.