While truck accidents are often fatal because of their size, the accident is not always the truck driver’s fault. However, no matter who caused the accident, the truck driver has to live with the death of another person for the rest of their life.
Even if the truck driver was negligent, he still has to live with the actions or inactions that killed an innocent driver. After a fatal accident, truck drivers should take several steps, especially if the accident was not the driver’s fault.
Common Reasons for Truck Accidents
Because of a truck’s size and weight, the driver cannot stop the vehicle on a dime. Trucks also make wide turns. A fully loaded big rig can weigh up to 80,000 pounds-more if the driver hauls an oversized load.
A truck driver might crash for several reasons, including:
- A passenger vehicle moves into a truck’s blind spot after the truck driver checks her mirrors.
- A passenger vehicle abruptly cuts a truck off, causing the truck driver to brake. This action could cause the trailer to swerve out of control or jackknife.
- A passenger vehicle sideswipes a truck.
- A driver in a passenger vehicle is following too closely and not paying attention and end up under the rear of the trailer.
- A passenger vehicle sideswipes a trailer and ends up under the trailer, and the truck driver does not realize that the car is under the trailer.
- Poorly maintained roads.
- High winds that cause a rollover, even at slow speeds.
- Truck or trailer defects from the manufacturer.
- A truck mechanic who does not make repairs properly and the inspector and/or the driver do not catch the repair. For example, if the mechanic does not fully tighten the bolts on part of the brake system, the brakes could fail and cause an accident.
The truck driver could also share in liability or have full liability for damages in some circumstances, including:
- Driving while fatigued.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, including legal prescription drugs.
- Driving while distracted.
- Inattentiveness, such as a driver rubbernecking another accident.
- Driving recklessly, including speeding.
- Driving aggressively, including weaving in and out of traffic or excessive speeding.
Sometimes, more than one person causes the accident. For example, a driver is driving on poorly maintained roads, which could cause a wreck. However, the truck driver continues driving the speed limit, which is too fast for conditions. Although the truck driver is not speeding, he could share liability for the death of another if he crashes since the speed limit is too fast for conditions.
Actions to Take After a Fatal Truck Accident
After a fatal truck accident, your actions depend on who you are. A truck driver might take different actions, depending on whether she is at fault for the accident. Witnesses and passengers of the deceased might take other actions.
After a Fatal Accident: Truck Drivers
Whether you believe you caused the accident or not, always check on drivers in other vehicles involved. Always call first responders. If another driver caused the accident, make sure the dashcam saved the video. If you do not have a dashcam, take photos of the scene. Be sure to take photos of any damage to the road and nearby property.
Speak to witnesses: Obtain their contact information, and ask what they saw. If passengers in the vehicle that collided with you—or that you collided with-have passengers, obtain their contact information.
When the police arrive, give them your version of what happened. Under no circumstances should you admit fault. Let the police and attorneys determine who was at fault. And, allow emergency medical technicians to check you over, even if you believe you do not have injuries or your injuries are minor. Seek medical attention after being released from the scene. Finally, contact a truck accident attorney.
After a Fatal Accident: Witnesses
As a witness, you could be the piece of the puzzle that keeps an innocent person from being sued or going to criminal court. If you see an accident, wait for the police to arrive so that you can tell them what you saw. If anyone involved in the accident approaches you, give them your contact information and take theirs.
A truck accident attorney will most likely ask you for a deposition or to appear in court. It is easy to forget what happened in an accident, especially if you do not know the people involved. Make a recording or write down what you saw, what you told the police, and what you told those involved in the crash.
After a Fatal Accident: Passengers
A passenger in a car with a fatality is a witness. While you are most likely devastated, you will have to speak to the police to tell them what happened. If those involved in the accident approach you, give them your contact information and try to tell them what you saw. Under no circumstances should you admit the driver, even if deceased, was at fault. Let the police and attorneys figure out who was at fault.
You can also ask the police how to proceed from that point—you will need to know where they are taking the deceased. Be sure to obtain a contact point for the hospital or morgue if possible.
Also, if you suffered injuries, allow the emergency medical technicians to check you over, then, when the police release you from the scene, obtain medical attention immediately. You should also contact a truck accident attorney if you suffered injuries.
Finally, if the deceased is your spouse, parent, or child, you should contact a wrongful death attorney and a probate attorney to guide you through the next few weeks and months.