Big rigs pose big risks

Tractor-trailer, semi-truck, big rig or whatever other names these vehicles are known by -- it's hard to ignore them. Anyone who drives on the highways of Texas or anywhere throughout the country can't help but notice the literal fleet of large cargo trucks that are ever-present. While it would be difficult to make the claim that big rigs are inherently dangerous, their sheer size and mass create the very real possibility that any confrontation with a passenger car will result in significant damage and injuries. Reducing the number of truck accidents begins with an understanding of the primary causes.

Initially, many feel it is more appropriate to refer to traffic incidents as 'crashes" or 'collisions" rather than accidents. Accident seems somewhat benign and implies an occurrence that couldn't be avoided, but in fact, almost every such incident involves negligence on behalf of one or more of the parties that damages another. Highway safety studies reveal the most frequent causes of trucking accidents to be driver error, equipment failure, improper vehicle maintenance, improper cargo loading and inclement weather.

Most of these seem to be within the trucking industry's ability to control, but that serves to highlight one of the difficulties in sorting out the issues of negligence and liability after a truck crash. For instance, if improper vehicle maintenance is the cause, there could be some dispute whether the responsible party is the company that owns the truck, the company that leases the truck or the truck driver. Even what may seem to be a straightforward issue, like a truck driver falling asleep while driving, may be made more complex by federal regulations limiting hours behind the wheel and the trucking company's potential liability for encouraging employees to break the rules to meet unrealistic deadlines.

Safety is important, and so, too, is holding those negligent accountable for the harm caused. A personal injury lawyer can sort out the issues involved in a big truck crash.

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