In late May, a multi-vehicle pile-up on Route 17 outside of Black Canyon City impacted traffic all the way into Phoenix. Eleven people were treated at local hospitals after an accident involving a pick-up truck, a semi-truck, and a tour bus.
Though the traffic was untangled in fairly short order, this type of accident leaves behind a different mass of complications. Unlike most car accidents, an accident involving a large truck or other commercial vehicle may mean sorting through a complicated web of state and federal laws to determine who is legally responsible for the damages.
Commercial Trucking and Bus Accidents in Arizona
In 2015, more than 12,000 large trucks and buses were involved in accidents on Arizona roadways. More than 3,000 of those accidents resulted in injury and more than 100 in fatalities. These accidents made up more than 5% of motor vehicle crashes in the state during that year.
While there are many possible causes, some of the most common include:
- The truck driver traveling too fast for conditions
- The truck driver strays out of his lane, into oncoming traffic or onto the shoulder of the road
- Another vehicle strays into the trucker’s lane
Liability in Commercial Truck Accident Cases
Liability isn’t always immediately obvious in a truck accident. In some cases, both drivers were arguably negligent. In other cases, a third party may bear some responsibility as owner of the vehicle, employer of the driver or in some other capacity. An attorney representing a client in a car accident case always has to investigate liability to ensure that all potentially responsible parties are included in the suit.
In a commercial trucking accident, however, the question of liability can be even more complicated. Truck drivers may be driving their own vehicles or company-owned vehicles, and may be operating as employees or as independent contractors. The question of ownership and control plays a role in determining who may be held responsible for injuries associated with a commercial truck accident, but that’s only the beginning.
Hours of Service Violations
The trucking industry is heavily regulated for safety reasons, and many commercial truck accidents involve violations of federal regulations. One of the most common is the “hours of service” restriction, which caps the number of hours a trucker may drive during a given time period. While these regulations employ a somewhat complicated system of “restart” periods and maximum hours per day and per seven or eight-day period, the goal is simple: to reduce the fatigue and distraction that studies have shown to make accidents more likely.
Unfortunately, many career truckers disregard these restrictions, either because they want to maximize miles to increase their income or due to pressure from employers or companies contracting their services.
Hours of service violations are just one example of the way the interplay of federal regulations, driver responsibility and company oversight can complicate the assessment as to who is legally responsible for a trucking accident and the assembly of proof to build a strong case on behalf of an injured driver or bystanders. When you’ve been injured in a commercial truck accident or lost a loved one to a truck crash, an experienced Arizona truck accident lawyer can be your best resource. At Miller Weber Kory LLP, we are here to help ensure you receive the justice you deserve. Call us at 602-648-4045 right now to get started.