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Understanding Commercial Truck Accidents: Causes, Liability, and Your Legal Rights

Importance of Understanding Commercial Truck Accidents

Commercial truck accidents can have severe consequences, causing significant injuries, property damage, and even loss of life. Due to the size and weight of commercial trucks, these accidents often result in more catastrophic outcomes compared to regular car accidents. It is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of commercial truck accidents to protect your rights and navigate the legal complexities that may arise.

In this article, we will delve into the causes, liability factors, and legal rights associated with commercial truck accidents. We will explore common causes such as driver fatigue, distracted driving, poor vehicle maintenance, overloaded or improperly loaded cargo, and reckless driving. Furthermore, we will discuss how liability is determined in commercial truck accidents, including the potential responsibility of the truck driver, trucking company, vehicle manufacturers, and maintenance and repair companies. Lastly, we will guide you on understanding your legal rights and seeking compensation for the damages and injuries you may have sustained in a commercial truck accident.

By gaining a comprehensive understanding of these crucial aspects, you will be better equipped to protect your interests and pursue fair compensation in the aftermath of a commercial truck accident.

Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents

Driver Fatigue and Its Impact on Road Safety

Commercial truck drivers often have demanding schedules, leading to long hours on the road. Fatigue can impair their cognitive abilities, reaction times, and overall driving performance. Driver fatigue is a significant cause of commercial truck accidents, as drowsiness can lead to inattentiveness, delayed reactions, and even falling asleep at the wheel. Understanding the risks associated with driver fatigue is crucial in determining liability and preventing such accidents.

Distracted Driving and Its Risks

Distracted driving is a pervasive problem on our roads, and commercial truck drivers are not immune to this dangerous behavior. Distractions such as texting, making phone calls, using in-cab devices, or engaging in other non-driving activities divert the driver’s attention from the road. Even a momentary lapse in focus can result in devastating consequences, as commercial trucks require longer distances to come to a stop. Recognizing the risks of distracted driving and raising awareness about its consequences are vital in promoting safer road practices.

Importance of Proper Vehicle Maintenance

Commercial trucks undergo extensive wear and tear due to their long-distance journeys and heavy loads. Neglecting regular maintenance, such as checking brakes, tires, and other vital components, can lead to mechanical failures on the road. Brake failures, tire blowouts, and other equipment malfunctions can cause the driver to lose control of the truck, resulting in accidents with severe consequences. Emphasizing the significance of proper vehicle maintenance is crucial to minimizing the occurrence of accidents caused by mechanical failures.

Effects of Overloaded or Improperly Loaded Cargo

Commercial trucks must adhere to specific weight limits and proper cargo loading procedures to maintain balance and stability. Overloading a truck or improper cargo distribution can lead to an unbalanced vehicle, affecting its maneuverability and increasing the risk of accidents. Cargo shifting during transit can also cause the truck to become unstable, potentially leading to rollovers or loss of control. Understanding the importance of proper cargo loading and enforcing regulations in this regard are crucial in preventing accidents caused by overloaded or improperly loaded trucks.

Risks Associated with Speeding and Reckless Driving

Speeding and reckless driving significantly increase the likelihood of accidents involving commercial trucks. Commercial truck drivers, often under pressure to meet tight deadlines, may resort to speeding or engaging in aggressive driving behaviors to reach their destinations faster. However, excessive speed reduces the driver’s ability to react to unexpected situations, lengthens the stopping distance, and amplifies the force of impact in a collision. Raising awareness about the risks of speeding and promoting responsible driving practices can contribute to a safer road environment for everyone.

By understanding these common causes of commercial truck accidents, we can work towards implementing preventive measures, promoting driver education, and holding responsible parties accountable. Heightened awareness of these causes will help in reducing the occurrence of accidents and ensuring safer roadways for all motorists.

Determining Liability in Commercial Truck Accidents

Parties Involved in Commercial Truck Accidents

Commercial truck accidents often involve multiple parties, making liability determination a complex process. It is essential to identify the individuals or entities that may share responsibility for the accident. The key parties involved in commercial truck accidents include the truck driver, the trucking company, vehicle manufacturers, and maintenance and repair companies.

Potential Liability of the Truck Driver

The truck driver can be held liable if their negligence contributed to the accident. Examples of negligent behavior include violating traffic laws, driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or heavy drugs, speeding, reckless driving, or driver fatigue. Establishing truck driver negligence requires a thorough investigation into their actions and adherence to safety regulations.

Responsibility of the Trucking Company

The trucking company may share liability in a commercial truck accident under certain circumstances. If the company failed to properly train their drivers, enforce safety regulations, conduct adequate background checks, or maintain their fleet, they may be held responsible for the accident. The trucking company’s policies and practices will be scrutinized to determine if they played a role in the accident.

Role of Vehicle Manufacturers in Accidents

In some cases, accidents involving commercial trucks may result from mechanical defects or faulty parts. If a manufacturing defect contributed to the accident, the vehicle manufacturer could be held accountable. Defective brakes, steering systems, tires, or other components may be factors in accidents, and investigating product liability becomes crucial in these situations.

Accountability of Maintenance and Repair Companies

Maintenance and repair companies that service commercial trucks have a responsibility to ensure that the vehicles are in proper working condition. If negligent maintenance or repair work contributed to the accident, these companies may also share liability. Factors such as inadequate inspections, substandard repairs, or failure to address known issues can contribute to accidents and increase the liability of maintenance and repair providers.

Understanding Your Legal Rights and Seeking Compensation

Determining liability in commercial truck accidents requires a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the incident. Evidence gathering, accident reconstruction, and expert analysis are crucial in identifying the responsible parties. Consultation with experienced personal injury attorneys who specialize in commercial truck accidents can provide valuable guidance and assistance in navigating the complex process of determining liability.

After a commercial truck accident, it is crucial to understand your legal rights and take appropriate steps to seek compensation for your losses. Here are important considerations:

Importance of Seeking Immediate Medical Attention

When involved in a commercial truck accident, seeking immediate medical attention is vital, even if you do not show immediate signs of injury. Some injuries, such as internal damage or whiplash, may not manifest immediately but could have long-term effects. Prompt medical evaluation establishes a record of your injuries, which is essential for your legal claim.

Documentation of the Accident Scene

Documenting the accident scene is crucial for building a strong case. Take photographs or videos of the accident scene, capturing the vehicles involved, property damage, road conditions, and any visible injuries. Collect contact information from witnesses who can provide statements supporting your version of events. Preserve any physical evidence, such as damaged vehicle parts or skid marks, that may help establish liability.

Benefits of Consulting a Personal Injury Attorney

Consulting with a personal injury attorney who specializes in commercial truck accidents can significantly benefit your case. An experienced attorney understands the complexities of these accidents and can provide valuable guidance. They will evaluate the circumstances of the accident, assess the strength of your case, and determine the potential compensation you may be entitled to. Additionally, an attorney can handle communication and negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf, ensuring your rights are protected and maximizing your chances of a fair settlement.

Types of Compensation Available to Accident Victims

If you have been a victim of a commercial truck accident, you may be eligible for various types of compensation, including:

  • Medical Expenses: Compensation for current and future medical treatments, hospital stays, surgeries, medication, rehabilitation, and therapy.
  • Lost Wages: Reimbursement for income lost due to the accident, including both current and future lost earnings.
  • Property Damage: Compensation for repairs or replacement of your vehicle and any damaged personal belongings.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages awarded for physical pain, emotional distress, and the overall impact the accident has had on your quality of life.
  • Wrongful Death: If a loved one lost their life in a commercial truck accident, you may be eligible for compensation through a wrongful death claim.

Understanding your legal rights and seeking appropriate compensation requires the expertise of a personal injury attorney who can navigate the legal process on your behalf. They will advocate for your rights, ensure all necessary documentation is collected, and fight for the compensation you deserve.


In the aftermath of a commercial truck accident, understanding your rights and seeking proper legal representation is crucial to protect your interests and pursue fair compensation. If you’ve been involved in a commercial truck accident in Portland, Oregon, you can rely on the expertise of attorney Marc A. Johnston.

Marc A. Johnston is a seasoned personal injury attorney with 15 years of experience in handling a wide range of cases, including commercial truck accidents. With a track record of successfully representing clients, he has handled over 800 cases, fighting diligently to ensure his clients receive the compensation they deserve.

One notable example of Marc A. Johnston’s expertise and dedication to his clients is a case where he secured an $850,000 payout for a motorist injured by a negligent 18-wheel truck driver. This impressive result highlights his commitment to seeking justice for accident victims and holding negligent parties accountable.

By choosing Marc A. Johnston as your legal advocate, you can benefit from his extensive experience, in-depth knowledge of personal injury law, and unwavering dedication to achieving favorable outcomes for his clients. He will carefully evaluate your case, gather essential evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, litigate on your behalf.

Don’t face the challenges of a commercial truck accident alone. Contact Marc A. Johnston to schedule a consultation and discuss your case. With his expertise and personalized approach, you can navigate the legal process with confidence and increase your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve.

Remember, time is of the essence in personal injury cases, so reach out to Marc A. Johnston today and take the first step towards obtaining the justice and compensation you need to rebuild your life after a commercial truck accident.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.