An estimated 3.4 million drivers operated commercial trucks on U.S. roadways in 2022. But just because someone is behind the wheel of a vehicle that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds doesn’t mean they’re qualified to do so.
That same year there were 99,600 accidents involving semi-trucks, leading to 5,276 fatalities. In Florida, 10,436 crashes resulted in 303 deaths. Many of these tragedies occurred because the person driving the truck had no business trying to operate such a complex piece of machinery.
Truck accidents can have devastating consequences due to the sheer size and weight of commercial vehicles. When these accidents occur due to the negligence of unqualified truck drivers – and the trucking companies that hire them – the risks escalate significantly. Unqualified truck drivers lack the necessary skills, training, and experience to operate these complex vehicles safely, leading to a heightened potential for accidents and injuries.
The Eberst Law Firm will work passionately to help you obtain maximum compensation if an unqualified truck driver caused an accident that led to a severe injury or fatality. We have extensive experience in these cases and a long track record of success. Schedule a free consultation by contacting us online or calling 1-888-CALL-JON.
What Makes a Driver Qualified?
A qualified truck driver possesses more than just a commercial driver’s license (CDL); they have undergone comprehensive training and have a deep understanding of the complexities of operating commercial vehicles. Proper training goes beyond the technical skills required to handle a truck; it encompasses a detailed approach to ensure safe operations on the road.
For example, qualified drivers know how to manage the unique handling characteristics of large trucks, such as wide turns, longer stopping distances, and significant blind spots. They’re also well-versed in safety protocols, including proper pre-trip inspections, secure cargo loading, and understanding traffic regulations specific to commercial vehicles.
In addition, qualified drivers have extensive training in emergency response procedures, equipping them to handle unexpected situations like brake failures, tire blowouts, or hazardous material spills.
Types of Accidents Caused by Unqualified Truck Drivers
According to the results of a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study, 87% of accidents analyzed occurred due to truck driver error. Unqualified truck drivers lacking proper training and experience can contribute to a range of accidents, each with severe consequences:
- Rear-end accidents and pileups: Their inability to accurately judge distances and stopping distances may lead to rear-end collisions, especially in heavy traffic conditions, potentially causing pileups with multiple vehicles involved.
- Rollover accidents: Inadequate knowledge of navigating turns and curves can result in rollover accidents, particularly on highways and sharp bends.
- Over-height accidents: Unqualified drivers may be unaware of height restrictions. They might collide with bridges, overpasses, or low-clearance structures, causing tragic accidents in the process.
- Jackknife accidents: Poor braking and control can cause the truck’s trailer to swing out of alignment with the cab, resulting in a hazardous jackknife situation.
A Driver Shortage in the Trucking Industry May Contribute to Increased Accidents
The trucking industry is grappling with a persistent shortage of qualified truck drivers, creating enormous challenges. According to one estimate, the industry needs about 80,000 more drivers. This shortage poses a concerning issue not only for the industry itself but also for road safety.
To meet the growing demands of transporting goods, companies might resort to employing individuals with less experience or inadequate training, inadvertently compromising road safety standards.
As companies grapple with the need to keep their operations running smoothly, the urgency to fill driver positions can sometimes overshadow the importance of proper training and qualifications. This industry-wide shortage can lead to a dangerous scenario. Underqualified or untrained can lead to a significant increase in accidents.
The Risks Associated with Hiring an Unqualified Driver
The decision to hire unqualified drivers introduces a host of safety risks that extend far beyond the confines of the truck cab. Unqualified drivers are ill-equipped to navigate the complexities of the road and the demands of operating large commercial vehicles. This lack of competence can have grave consequences for their safety, the safety of passengers in their vehicles, and other road users.
Unqualified drivers are more likely to struggle with the following:
- Poor weather conditions: Handling adverse weather conditions, such as rain or fog, requires skill and experience. Unqualified drivers may lack the expertise to safely navigate these challenging situations, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
- Congested areas: Driving through congested urban areas or negotiating heavy traffic requires a keen sense of spatial awareness, quick decision-making, and patience. Inexperienced or unskilled drivers might struggle to handle the stress and complexities of these scenarios.
- Split-second decisions: Unforeseen situations on the road often demand split-second decisions to avoid collisions. An unqualified driver’s delayed reaction or inability to accurately assess the situation can lead to accidents.
Who’s At-Fault for an Accident Caused by an Unqualified Driver?
Trying to establish liability in a truck accident can be complex. When the cause is an inexperienced driver, both the driver and the hiring company will probably share responsibility.
The driver’s lack of qualifications and training likely contributed to their inability to operate the vehicle safely. But the hiring company will also bear responsibility for placing an underqualified driver on the road, neglecting proper training and vetting procedures.
Navigating the aftermath of accidents involving unqualified drivers demands a deep understanding of liability, regulations, and the complexities of trucking operations. Seeking skilled legal representation is crucial to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Can I Receive Compensation if an Unqualified Driver Caused My Accident?
After a truck accident, victims may be entitled to various types of compensation to cover the physical, emotional, and financial damages they’ve incurred. These compensatory measures aim to help individuals recover from the accident’s aftermath and return to their normal lives. The types of compensation available after a truck accident include:
- Medical expenses: This includes reimbursement for hospitalization, surgery, medical treatments, prescription medications, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and any other healthcare-related costs incurred due to the accident.
- Lost wages: If the accident results in injuries that prevent the victim from working, they can seek compensation for the wages lost during their recovery period. This also includes potential future earnings if the injuries lead to long-term or permanent disability.
- Subjective damages: Victims suffering non-economic damages, such as physical pain, emotional distress, anxiety, and reduced quality of life, are eligible for compensation. Quantifying these damages is complicated, often requiring the expertise of legal professionals.
- Wrongful death damages: In fatal truck accidents, surviving family members may seek compensation for funeral expenses, loss of financial support, loss of companionship, and emotional distress.
Contact The Eberst Law Firm to Speak with an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney ASAP
If you’ve been involved in a truck accident caused by an unqualified driver, you must speak with a lawyer immediately. The experienced truck accident attorneys at The Eberst Law Firm can assess your case, determine liability, and guide you through the legal process to pursue the compensation you deserve.