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Is the truck driver always at fault in a truck accident? (Part 1)

We often make mention here on our Denver personal injury law blog of the dangers that semi-trucks and inattentive truck drivers pose to other motorists on our roads and highways. If for no other reason than their sheer size and weight compared to a passenger vehicle, trucks have the potential to do significantly greater damage in the event of a truck accident.

Our readers, however, may find themselves asking: is a truck accident always the truck driver’s fault? To answer, we’ll take a look at some common causes of truck accidents and which drivers are at fault in each. The information is intended as general background on truck accidents only and is not to be taken as specific legal information.

Let’s review accident causes where the truck driver, and perhaps the trucking company, would be considered at fault. Sometimes a truck driver has not been properly trained to operate a particular vehicle safely. He or she may not fully understand the techniques necessary to handle a tractor-trailer, or may not know how to employ defensive driving techniques. He or she may not be able to recognize safety issues early enough to correct them.

Even when a driver has been trained, truck company negligence can also contribute to a crash. They may pay their drivers in such a way that longer hours behind the wheel and faster speeds on the road, to the extent that they actually pose a danger, can earn drivers more money. They may establish schedules that place unrealistic expectations on drivers, leading to truckers who are sleep-deprived and in too much of a hurry to drive safely.

If an accident results from any of these causes, clearly the truck driver, or trucking company, could be considered at fault. But there are certain actions that other motorists can take around trucks that may lead to a finding of negligence on their part as well, potentially affecting the amount of damages they could receive in a personal injury lawsuit. We’ll explore those causes in a follow-up post.