Collisions between passenger vehicles and commercial trucks can cause catastrophic injuries and fatalities, especially for the people in the smaller vehicle. Typically, such crashes result in large insurance claims, especially when the commercial vehicle is the one that caused the collision.
The possibility of causing substantial damage to smaller vehicles, pedestrians and even property is one reason why commercial vehicles typically carry much higher amounts of liability coverage than personal vehicles.
Even with those higher coverage amounts, an insurance claim alone may not fully compensate a family for a crash, especially if there was more than one person in the vehicle at the time of the wreck. When is it possible to hold the trucking company and not the individual driver responsible for a commercial crash?
When the company does not adequately maintain its fleet
Working on a big commercial truck requires special skills and equipment. Maintenance is crucial to the dependable performance of a commercial truck, and companies that have their own fleets of vehicles should continually invest in maintenance to ensure the safety of their drivers and the public.
Unfortunately, according to statistics gathered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, roughly 10% of all commercial truck crashes where the commercial vehicle has faults are the result of issues with the vehicle itself. Improperly maintained trucks could easily contribute to a crash that the driver has no way to prevent.
When company culture contributes to driver mistakes
Commercial drivers are subject not just to the standard rules of the road but to more restrictions than the average driver. There are limits on how long they can drive and what they do behind the wheel. For example, while there is no federal law about most people texting while driving, there is a federal no-text rule that applies to anyone operating a commercial vehicle.
When trucking companies require that their drivers violate safety rules, whether they mandate responses to company messages while on the road or require that drivers continue operating after they’ve reached their limit under Hours of Service rules, the company, and not the driver, may have the ultimate responsibility for a crash that results.
When they hire an unsafe driver
Sometimes, commercial drivers with questionable personal backgrounds or criminal records that make it clear they have safety issues still retain their licensing. Although most companies carefully screen the drivers they hire, a shortage of skilled transportation professionals has led to some companies hiring those who don’t have ideal driving records or who have criminal records.
Holding a trucking company responsible for a crash can mean more options for compensation and offsetting the impact of a crash on an individual or a family.