Accidents involving large commercial trucks can be incredibly devastating for individuals driving smaller passenger vehicles. Rear-end collisions and turning crashes are just a couple of examples of highly-damaging truck accidents that might occur on the road when negligence is in play. However, catastrophic incidents can also occur at truck stops.
Truckers and travelers alike make use of truck stops to get a much-needed break during long journeys, so it is important for everyone to understand the legal implications of an accident that happens in these rest areas. By knowing all the parties that might be at fault for your injury, you can have the best chance of receiving the full compensation you deserve for damages incurred.
When Truck Drivers Are at Fault
When a truck strikes a pedestrian or other vehicle in a truck stop parking lot, it may be an act of negligence for which the trucker is solely responsible. Though it can be difficult for large vehicles to carefully navigate crowded truck stops, drivers still have an obligation to maintain awareness of their surroundings. Commercial trucks and passenger vehicles often occupy different areas of a rest stop, so it is also necessary for professional drivers to remember to yield appropriately if a car has the right-of-way when approaching from another direction.
If you experience an accident at a Utah truck stop, keep in mind that the state has a comparative negligence law in place. This means that your degree of fault in an accident affects the amount of compensation you can receive. Should the court determine that you are 50% or more responsible for the accident as compared to the truck driver on the other end of the crash, you will not receive any damages.
Trucking Companies and Their Partners May Share the Blame
While it can be easy to direct blame on the other driver in a truck accident, it is often the case that some or all of the fault might lie with the company that employs them. Many factors affect the performance and handling of commercial vehicles. Though it is true that drivers are responsible for their own actions, acts of negligence for which other entities within the company are to blame fall outside the matters an individual trucker can control.
In the event that you only pursue the truck driver for damages following your injury, you might miss out on the compensation you can receive if you acknowledge the liability that the trucking company and its partners hold. Your legal team can help you understand various contributing factors to your accident and take action against the parties responsible.
Trucking companies employ mechanics to ensure that each vehicle is in satisfactory condition before returning to the road. When a malfunction leads to a collision, entire maintenance crews might be liable for the accident. Defects in a truck’s brakes, tires, or any onboard systems are avoidable so long as maintenance staff are sufficiently thorough in their inspections and perform the necessary repairs or replacements when a problem becomes apparent.
When you and your legal advocates are investigating the cause of your accident, be aware that some trucking companies choose to outsource maintenance to external contractors. This can complicate your claim if poor maintenance is a factor in your case, but holding each negligent party accountable is key to recovering full damages.
Many claimants overlook the possibility that the type of cargo in a truck plays a role in the likelihood of an accident. Additionally, poor loading practices can lead to uneven weight distribution in a truck’s trailer or even cause balance issues if unsecured goods shift around during transit.
Truckers often have little or no say in what goods they carry. The burden of blame lies with the company when they decide to transport potentially dangerous cargo without enforcing proper safety considerations. Similarly, the loading team employed by the company or its shipping partners is at fault if an accident occurs due to failures in securing cargo or exceeding weight restrictions.
Improper cargo management may result in jackknifing or roll-overs that are outside of the driver’s control. The transport of dangerous chemicals can lead to leaks of harmful liquids or fumes if the relevant personnel fail to adequately seal and secure the containers. Such leaks can even give way to fires that spread to or combust other vehicles.
The company that employs truck drivers and manages fleets of commercial vehicles is a separate entity from the manufacturer that produces the vehicles and their individual parts. An accident resulting from faulty manufacturing is at least partly due to the negligence of the manufacturer in question.
Manufacturers have a serious obligation to uphold safety standards and perform thorough checks on their products before releasing them to the market. If an issue comes to light after distribution, then the manufacturers have a duty to notify their customers and conduct a recall. Failing to meet this necessary commitment to safety implies at least partial fault in an accident that is otherwise avoidable.
The Truck Stop Also Has Liability Obligations
Depending on the circumstances, companies or individuals who own truck stops may be liable for damages that occur on the premises. While this should not deter you from exploring the possibility of pursuing compensation from truck drivers and their employers who might also be at fault, it is prudent to keep in mind that conditions at the truck stop might contribute to the cause of your accident. Common premises liability hazards include:
- Poor lighting
- Certain acts of crime or violence
- Icy walkways in the colder months
Truck stops, as with any other business, have a legal obligation to the safety of the public. If the owners of the business have ample opportunity to correct a situation that might otherwise lead to injury on the premises, then victims of any such harmful incident have grounds to file a claim against them. In regard to a trucking accident, any instance of a truck colliding with a pedestrian or passenger vehicle due to conditions on the premises which affect the truck driver’s control may be at least partially the fault of the truck stop.
Truck Stop Accidents In Utah
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports 4,014 fatalities in the year 2020 due to large truck crashes. While you might expect that many of these annual crashes happen on high-speed roadways, it is also entirely possible for commercial vehicle collisions to occur in parking lots or at truck stops. It is when professional drivers least expect an unfortunate turn of events that they might lower their attentiveness. Furthermore, issues with a truck’s mechanical parts or cargo load can absolutely surface even if the vehicle is stationary or moving slowly through a pedestrian zone.
The legal team at Siegfried & Jensen includes experienced truck accident lawyers who know the rules that trucking companies and their insurers must abide by. If you confront these large entities alone, they might try to take advantage of your situation and push you into accepting an unfair amount of compensation. Contact our law offices at 801-845-9000 and get a strong start toward receiving the settlement you deserve after sustaining an injury in a truck stop accident.