When collisions occur, people tend to assume that one of the drivers involved will be directly to blame for the crash. Typically that is true. In commercial vehicle collisions, sometimes the smaller passenger vehicle is to blame for the wreck, and many other times, the commercial vehicle is at fault.
However, when it comes to commercial vehicles, the driver isn’t always the one to blame for the wreck. According to an analysis of commercial vehicle collisions performed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, roughly 10% of commercial vehicle crashes are caused not by a driver’s mistake but by an issue with the vehicle.
When the vehicle is to blame, a commercial driver who is an employee of a transportation company may not actually be the one who caused the wreck. What are the two main scenarios in which a commercial driver’s vehicle makes another party responsible for a crash?
When bad maintenance causes a wreck
Commercial transportation companies need to maintain their vehicles in safe operating condition. They typically employ mechanics who can help maintain a fleet of vehicles. However, some companies don’t invest adequately in the maintenance of their fleets. They may send drivers out to deliver loads in vehicles that have bad breaks or other known maintenance issues. When vehicle issues cause a crash, the transportation company, not the driver, may be to blame for the wreck.
When bad loading causes a crash
Some drivers have to load and unload the trailers that they haul as part of their job, but many truckers simply pick up a load and have nothing to do with loading or inspecting the trailer.
If the client that loaded the trailer fails to warn a driver about fluid contents or if a worker unevenly loads a trailer, the contents might shift when a trucker goes around a curve or completes a turn, resulting in them losing control of the vehicle and causing a preventable collision. In that scenario, the business that loaded the trailer may be the one ultimately at fault for the crash and may provide insurance coverage or potentially be subject to a civil lawsuit related to the collision that resulted.
Determining faults is often a key step when seeking compensation after a commercial truck collision.