Truck accidents can cause severe damage and injury to both the trucker and those in surrounding cars. No matter who is at fault, truck accidents have serious ramifications. Even if no one was injured, these accidents can cause delays and lost cargo that can be detrimental to your business. Here are some essential things you should know about truck accidents.
The Cost Of Truck Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s 2015 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics, sizeable commercial vehicle accidents cost $100 billion each year. Fatal truck accidents cost $42 billion, while property damage and injury represent the remainder.
As an owner/operator, you want to make sure your business is covered from liability. Truck insurance also protects other motorists so that if an accident should occur, you can fix any damage and keep your business as successful as it was before the crash.
Who Is At Fault When a Trucking Accident Occurs?
Dangerous scenarios are avoidable, and when truck drivers are considered at fault for the accident, the causes are divided into four categories:
Non-performance: This is when the truck driver was asleep or physically disabled for a short period of time that resulted in the accident.
Recognition: The trucker was inattentive or distracted for one reason or another.
Decision: The trucker made a conscious decision to drive too fast, follow too closely, or misjudged the speed of other vehicles.
Performance: The trucker panicked, overcompensated, or had poor directional control. It is also important to note that there are also mechanical problems that could be factors in the accident. These all factor into performance:
- Overdue Maintenance
- Brake Problems
- Unfamiliarity with roadways
This about how much time trucks and their drivers are on the road. It’s up to at least 11 hours without a significant break. Trucks are also much larger than other vehicles on the road. These factors combined make it unsurprising that trucks encounter these situations.
If an accident is ruled to be the trucker’s fault, you want to make sure both that driver and yourself are insured so that any damage caused to the truck or another vehicle is covered by your insurance and won’t have to come straight from your business.
Truckers Are Not Always at Fault
It’s incorrect to assume that truck drivers cause every single accident. Although trucks tend to cause more damage and protect their drivers from fatalities and serious injury, the drivers may not be at fault for a particular incident. In fact, many truck drivers uphold professional standards.
However, if a car does cause an accident, it’s always important to make sure your commercial truck insurance covers the damages to your cargo and potential injury to your driver.
When is Your Company Liable?
An employer may be liable for the wrongful acts of its truck driver depending on your contract with the driver. Typically, the employee’s liability is attributed to the employer so that the business as a whole is liable.
Accidents, major or minor, are bound to happen in the trucking industry. Because of this, the losses caused by an accident are placed on the employer as a cost of doing business. By purchasing insurance, a business can more easily protect itself than a single employee, making your commercial trucking insurance even more important.
Your business will typically not be liable when an accident has occurred because of an independent contractor. If you do work with independent truckers, it’s important to make sure that they have insurance of their own to protect them.
There is an exception to this. If the driver’s acts were intentional, the business might not be liable. For example, if the truck chooses to slam into another car to intentionally harm another person, the business is no longer accountable, and the truck driver is. However, this can often be hard to prove, so it’s always important to vet your drivers and make sure they’re right for the job.
What To Do If You Are Involved in an Accident
If you’re operating a truck and are involved in an accident, there are a few steps you need to follow.
Call the police. Even if the accident was minor and no one was hurt, you should always call the police and make a statement. This will be beneficial when you report it to your insurance company as well so that they can see you took the necessary steps.
Take pictures. Even if you are at fault, you will want to take pictures of the damage. This should include any cargo in the truck, and the damage to another’s property. This is another step that will help with the insurance process and prove that you are a reliable truck driver.
Contact your insurance company and file a report. As soon as you are done giving the police a statement, you will want to contact your insurance company. You will file a report to tell them what happened and the circumstances leading up to the accident. They will also be able to provide you with some additional support if you have any questions about what is covered and how this will affect future coverage.
Call an attorney. If there are injuries or you feel that you might lose your job over an accident, you should always contact someone well versed in the law. Whether you are at fault or not, it is a smart decision to speak with a lawyer. As the driver of a truck, you may have caused more damage even if you were not responsible for the collision.
Dealing With Your Truck Insurance Company After a Collision
If you are working for a trucking company, they should supply you with insurance, and they will be responsible for the aftermath of your accident. If you are the business, it’s up to you to handle what comes next. Someone will need to contact the insurance agency to report the incident so that the report can be processed as soon as possible.
Your insurance company is only liable if the accident occurred “within the scope of employment.” This means that the truck driver must have been doing something work-related when the accident happened. Only then is your insurance company liable.