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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger

Who's At Fault in Head-on Truck Accidents? | Determining Liability

Truck crashes are some of the most traumatic and serious accidents in the United States. In fact, in 2020, truck accidents accounted for a whopping 4,014 deaths, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).


A head-on collision can be even more devastating, resulting in serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. These injuries can be life-changing, resulting in high medical bills, lost time at work, and more.


By holding the at-fault party (or parties) liable for their negligence, victims can begin their journey to recovery. However, identifying the parties who are responsible for the accident isn't always as straightforward as one might think.


This article will discuss the various people or companies that may be held responsible for damages in a personal injury case where a head-on truck accident is concerned.


What Is a Head-on Collision?

What Is a Head-on Collision?


Before delving into the various liable parties in head-on crash cases, it might be helpful to first understand exactly what a head-on collision is.


When a motor vehicle, usually a smaller passenger car, crashes front-on with the front end of a considerably bigger and heavier truck, it results in a disastrous traffic accident, but why is this so?


When a car collides head-on with a large commercial vehicle, the combined kinetic energy of the two vehicles creates a tremendous force of impact that is much greater than that produced in a normal car accident.


Due to the obvious differences in size and weight, the result tends to be catastrophic. Compared to passenger vehicles, trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more, while the weight of the average car is just 3,000 to 4,000 pounds.


The force of impact produced can have devastating effects on the human body. Broken bones are common in these accidents, as well as other serious injuries, such as spinal cord, brain, ankle and foot injuries, and more.


How Head-on Collisions Typically Occur

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there are three primary reasons for head-on collisions. These include the following:

  • Driving into oncoming traffic or off the road while in the truck's designated lane.

  • Slamming into the back of another vehicle.

  • Losing control of the vehicle for a variety of causes, including speeding, shifting load, defective equipment, poor road conditions, and more.


Who's At Fault in Head-on Truck Accidents?


There are a number of parties that can be held liable for the damages that result from a head-on crash. The section below will take a closer look at these parties to give victims a better understanding of liability in these cases. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also go over who's at fault in brake failure accidents.


Most Head-on Crashes Can Be Attributed to Driver Error

The truth is that most accidents can be attributed to driver error. At least 87 percent of truck accidents are the result of distractions, driver negligence, or other such errors. Environmental variables were responsible for just three percent of the remaining 13 percent of accidents, while vehicle failure led to 10 percent of them.


The majority of commercial truck drivers make mistakes that all drivers make, including speeding, following other vehicles too closely, being distracted while driving, and dozing off. Alcohol or narcotics can also impair driving (more frequently, prescription or over-the-counter medicines).


While some accidents do occur because of the negligence of the other driver, most accidents involving trucks occur because of truck driver error.


The truth is that truck drivers are often required to travel long distances in short timeframes to meet deadlines, which results in them being tired. This exhaustion can lead to poor reaction times, which, when coupled with other factors, such as poor visibility, can cause the truck to veer off the road.


Victims who were injured in such an accident can hold the at-fault driver liable for their damages if driver error was the cause of the accident.


The Trucking Company

In some cases, the trucking company can be held responsible. Sometimes, these companies place undue pressure on drivers, causing them to travel without getting enough sleep. They could also fail to conduct the necessary repairs on the vehicle, which could cause it to veer off the road.


Employing unqualified drivers or failing to train them is another reason why a trucking company might be held liable for accident damages.


Taking on a major corporation might seem intimidating. However, with the help of a reliable car accident lawyer, a truck accident victim can recover the compensation they deserve.


Manufacturers

In rare cases, manufacturing defects can lead to head-on collisions. Sometimes, a part could be faulty, which causes the truck driver to lose control of the vehicle. In such cases, the claimant will need to file a lawsuit against the car part manufacturer to recover damages.


The Maintenance Company

Suppose a truck has received maintenance from a repair shop, and the technician fails to put a particular part back correctly, resulting in a head-on crash with another vehicle. In that case, the maintenance company can be held responsible.


The Loading Company

Trucks are very different from cars and other vehicles. They carry loads, which, if loaded incorrectly, can cause the truck to become imbalanced. If a truck was overloaded or the cargo was not distributed evenly, the loading company or employees can be held liable for the resulting injuries sustained in the accident.


Determining Fault in a Head-on Collision Case


The reality is that determining fault in accidents involving trucks is never easy. There are often many factors that contribute to a collision, and because there are generally several parties involved in the maintenance and management of a commercial motor vehicle, more than one party can be held liable for their part in the collision.


If a truck driver was texting and driving, for example, and the brakes fail, but he doesn't notice that there's a problem quickly enough and crashes into another car, resulting in severe injuries, the driver and the manufacturer of the braking system or part will be held liable.


However, if driver fatigue was the reason for the driver's distraction because the trucking company failed to account for rest stops, the trucking company would be held liable instead.


Identifying the party or parties at fault is often difficult, which is why hiring car accident lawyers is a must.


Next Steps After a Head-on Truck Accident


When a victim is injured in a truck accident, there are steps they can take to ensure the success of a personal injury claim.

  1. Contact law enforcement. When law enforcement agents get to the accident scene, they will contact emergency medical services to help victims get the care they need. They will also generate a report. This report can serve as crucial evidence in a personal injury case.

  2. Seek medical attention. Receiving treatment for injuries sustained in a truck accident is important, and a failure to follow through with medical care can result in the denial of a claim.

  3. Take videos or photographs. Taking photographs while on the scene can provide crucial evidence to support a claim.

  4. Talk to a reliable lawyer. Attorneys can provide important guidance and legal representation following a truck accident. Personal injury cases are often subject to a statute of limitations, and getting started with a claim early can mean the difference between winning and losing a case.


How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help


A truck accident lawyer can offer valuable insight into who is at fault. They often have many years of experience and can help to identify liable parties. Attorneys also offer expert guidance and ensure that victims have the freedom to focus on their recovery while still pursuing the compensation they are rightly due.


Lawyers are also expert negotiators and can ensure that victims get a fair settlement amount without having to go to court. However, if the matter cannot be resolved through negotiation, a Houston semi truck accident attorney will represent the victim in court, presenting important evidence to back up the claim.


Keep in mind that not all law firms are the same, so it's important for victims to do a bit of research before choosing a personal injury lawyer. They must ensure that the legal representative they choose is experienced and has a good track record. They can also help explain who's at fault in rear-end truck accidents.


Get Help from an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer!


Truck accidents can be gruesome, and head-on collisions are even more catastrophic. Filing a lawsuit is an important part of the journey to recovery, as it can provide victims with much-needed funds to complete their medical treatment.


However, truck accident cases are often complex, and the lines can become blurred when determining fault. Fortunately, victims can receive expert legal advice and aggressive representation to ensure a favorable outcome.


Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys offer victims and family members the support and guidance they need in the aftermath of a head-on collision. To learn more or schedule a free consultation with a reliable personal injury lawyer, claimants can contact the firm.

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