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Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

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Commercial truck accidents are some of the deadliest incidents that occur on the roadways. When a tractor-trailer that weighs upwards of 80,000 pounds (when fully loaded) collides into a regular passenger vehicle, the results can be catastrophic – especially for occupants of the other vehicle.

For those who are injured in trucking accidents, pursuing a claim can be surprisingly difficult. These types of cases tend to be far more complicated than standard auto accident claims, not only because the injuries are often very serious and many times fatal, but also because there are numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry, and there are multiple parties that can play a role in causing the accident.

How do Most Commercial Truck Accidents Happen?

There are several factors that can contribute to a trucking accident, here are some of the most common:


Drowsy driving is one of the leading causes but big rig truck accidents. Over-the-road truck drivers are at very high risk of driving when they are tired and fatigued, because they are typically on the road for many consecutive hours, often during evening and overnight hours. Trucking companies do not help matters by putting unrealistic deadlines on their drivers, often forcing them to make a difficult choice between violating federal Hours of Service guidelines to deliver their loads on time and pulling over to get the rest they need.

Distracted Driving

Driving while distracted has become one of the leading causes of auto accidents in recent years. Motorists have always had to deal with distractions, but texting while driving and other forms of electronic activity on a smart phone are especially dangerous, because they distract drivers in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. Just looking down at your phone for five seconds to send a text while driving 55 mph is like driving the entire length of a football field blindfolded. Distracted driving is a problem with both commercial truckers and passenger vehicle drivers alike.

Aggressive Driving

In an effort to stay on schedule, some truckers drive more aggressively by breaking the speed limit, driving faster than it is safe to do under current conditions, overtaking other vehicles when it is not safe to do so, and other dangerous maneuvers. Speeding significantly reduces the time drivers have to react when they need to swerve or hit the break to avoid an adverse circumstance. This increases the risk of crashes, and because these crashes occur at higher speeds, there is a greater chance of severe injuries and fatalities.

Negligent Maintenance

Semi-trucks that are running regularly typically log thousands of miles over-the-road each month. This puts a lot more wear and tear on commercial vehicles than regular cars sustain. For this reason, it is very important for big rig trucks to be regularly maintained in order to ensure that they can be operated safely. Unfortunately, the pressure to get trucks back out on the road sometimes causes those responsible for maintenance to cut corners.

Improper Cargo Loading

Shipping and freight companies that load cargo onto commercial vehicles are required to stay within certain weight limits, and to follow other specific guidelines when loading the truck. Sometimes, however, trucks are packed with more cargo than they are legally allowed, because companies want to save money by making less trips. And in a rush to stay on schedule, trucks are sometimes unevenly loaded. Improperly loaded semi-trucks run a higher risk of rolling over or tipping off to the side when the driver is going too fast and/or encounters high winds, ice, and other types of inclement weather.

Equipment Failure

Some vehicle accidents are caused (at least partially) by defective or dangerous vehicles or vehicle parts that fail at the wrong time. Examples may include tire blowouts, brake line failures, and computer dashboard malfunctions. When this happens, the injured party may have a product liability case against the manufacturer, distributor, or other parties within the supply chain of the faulty product.

Pursuing a Trucking Accident Case

As mentioned previously, truck accident claims can be very complex and challenging to pursue. This is especially true in a state like Alabama, where they apply the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at fault for the underlying accident. With so much at stake and such a high standard to meet, it is absolutely crucial to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible after the accident. Otherwise, your right to recover compensation may be in jeopardy.

If you or someone close to you was injured or killed in a truck accident that happened in Alabama or Florida, contact the skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Smith & McGhee. We have extensive experience with truck accident cases, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward obtaining maximum compensation for their injuries.

Call our office today at 334-377-1674 or message us online for a consultation and case assessment.