The Most Common Tractor-Trailer Accident Causes
Tractor-trailer accidents occur all over the United States, and because of the size and weight of the vehicles involved, they kill a disproportionate number of people each year. The National Safety Council estimates that in 2021, approximately 5 percent of the vehicles on the road were big rigs – but big rigs made up 9 percent of the vehicles involved in fatal crashes. In tractor-trailer accidents, the same patterns tend to recur, resulting in similar injuries.
Not every big rig accident can be laid at the fault of the tractor-trailer driver, of course – but of the ones that can, quite a few can be explained by driver error of some kind. Engaging in unsafe driving behavior like speeding or ignoring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA)’s Hours of Service regulations (which require certain amounts of rest between driving shifts) can and does lead to accidents.
Some of this behavior can be laid at the door of the driver’s employer, however – for example, a driver might disobey Hours of Service regulations because an employer has ordered a strict time schedule. A concept called vicarious liability states that an employer can be held liable for any tort (essentially the civil version of a crime) committed by an employee while acting within the course of their employment, and sometimes, this theory is applicable in accident cases.
Potentially Criminal Behavior
In addition to reckless behavior like speeding, truck drivers may engage in other behavior that can be described as both negligent and potentially criminal. The most common instance of this is driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; another example is distracted driving. Both of these actions may be the basis for charging someone with a crime – and while a criminal charge does not always immediately mean negligence has occurred, there are some instances where it does. This is a concept called negligence per se.
Negligence per se applies when a person breaks a law that is designed to protect a certain class of people by harming a member of that class. For example, Florida’s DUI statute is designed to protect pedestrians and other road users. If a trucker drives while drunk and injures or kills another person, they may be guilty of a crime – but since they violated the law in harming a member of the class the law was protecting, the court will assume them negligent as a matter of law as well.
Contact A Tampa Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorney
Tractor-trailer accidents are far more common than one might expect, and they occur for a variety of different reasons. If you have been injured in an accident with a big rig, contacting a Tampa tractor-trailer accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can be your first step toward the compensation you deserve. Call our office today at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.