More than ever before, Americans are choosing to purchase their Christmas presents from online retailers. That means more delivery trucks are on the road to make sure these online purchases make it to customers in time for Christmas Day. Instead of delivering multiple items to one store, these trucks are zipping around the snowy countryside and delivering packages one house at a time.
With more packages and delivery locations than ever before, accidents are bound to happen. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a delivery truck, you may be wondering who should be held responsible. Is it the fault of the truck driver, the delivery company, or some combination of the two?
Causes of Delivery Truck Accidents
Delivery truck accidents are different from car accidents because the truck driver is a professional. They have different expectations placed on them and regulations they must adhere to. Unrealistic expectations can cause problems, and lack of compliance with regulations can result in serious consequences.
Many things can cause a delivery truck accident. One common reason is driver fatigue. Delivery truck drivers face an enormous amount of pressure to deliver their packages on time, especially during the holiday season. Drivers may be inclined to ignore the Hours of Service regulations in order to make their deliveries on time.
The Hours of Service regulations exist to ensure drivers are well rested before hitting the road. Drowsy driving can have similar consequences to drunk driving, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving claimed 846 lives in 2014 and caused 83,000 accidents between 2005 and 2009. By limiting the number of hours truck drivers can spend consecutively on the road, the Hours of Service regulations combat the real danger of drowsy driving.
Truck drivers have to log their hours to show they’re complying with the Hours of Service regulations. If logs show that the truck driver was on the road when he shouldn’t have been, both the truck driver and the delivery company may face serious consequences.
Truck drivers also have to follow laws that the rest of us have to follow. They can’t text or talk on the phone while driving, and they need to use their turn signals for turns and lane changes.
Lack of proper licensing or training can also cause a delivery truck accident. Delivery truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate their vehicle, regardless of if it’s an 18-wheeler, a box truck, or a van. The delivery company must make sure its drivers have up-to-date licensing and have the proper training to operate delivery vehicles.
Of course, delivery trucks require more maintenance than the average car. If the truck isn’t properly maintained, defective parts can cause a delivery truck accident.
Liability in a Delivery Truck Accident
Often, if the truck driver is at fault for the accident, it’s the delivery company’s insurance that will actually be responsible for covering your injuries.
However, delivery companies have additional responsibilities to ensure the training of their drivers and the safety of their vehicles. If a judge or jury finds a delivery company was negligent in their duties, they can hand down punitive damages to discourage the company from engaging in similar behavior in the future.
For example, let’s say you’re injured in a delivery truck accident because the truck’s brakes failed. Upon further investigation, it turns out that the delivery company knew about the truck’s faulty brakes but didn’t want to spend the money to replace or repair them. Multiple trucks were affected, resulting in multiple crashes. In this instance, a judge or jury may decide that simply paying for victims’ damages isn’t enough to discourage this negligent behavior. After all, the company’s goal was to save a few bucks, and paying for victims’ medical bills and pain and suffering hardly puts a dent in the company budget. Therefore, the judge or jury may decide punitive damages are necessary to really send the message home to the company that this kind of negligent behavior is unacceptable.
A third party may also be responsible for your accident. Again, let’s say you were injured in a delivery truck accident due to faulty brakes. However, in this example, the delivery company had no idea the brakes were faulty. The company they hire to maintain the trucks cut corners during inspection and lied about the safety of the vehicles. In this case, the maintenance company could also be held responsible for your injuries.
Help from an Indiana Truck Accident Lawyer
The last thing you should have to worry about this holiday season is dealing with a truck accident claim. If you’ve been injured in a delivery truck accident, Hensley Legal Group can help. Call us today or contact us online for a free consultation.