While safely maneuvering a large commercial truck can be difficult, this is not an excuse for truck drivers to put other people in harm’s way. This applies when truck drivers are operating their rigs on the road, and it applies equally when they are reversing on job sites, in parking lots, and in other areas where vehicles or pedestrians may be nearby.
Any time a truck driver is behind the wheel, he or she has a legal duty to avoid negligently causing harm to others. When a truck driver violates this duty and causes serious or fatal injuries, the truck driver and his or her employer can be held legally accountable.
Truck Driver Negligence Leading to Serious and Fatal Reversing Accidents
The same legal standards apply to drivers of all types of commercial trucks, from work trucks to 18-wheelers. Mistakes that can lead to accidents while reversing – and that can support claims for compensation by victims and their families – include:
- Failing to Walk around the Truck Before Backing Up – Tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks have blind spots that cannot be seen from the cab. As a result, the only way to make sure there is nothing behind these trucks prior to reversing is to walk around to the back. Failing to ensure that there is nothing behind a truck prior to reversing is a form of negligence that can lead to serious and fatal injuries.
- Backing Up without Checking Blind Spots – For smaller commercial trucks, it may be possible to completely view the area behind the truck without exiting the cab. When this is the case, truck drivers must fully and carefully check their blind spots before they shift into reverse. Backing up without checking blind spots is among the most common causes of truck reversing accidents, and it is a cause that can be easily avoided with appropriate care.
- Reversing Too Fast – Reversing too fast in any vehicle is dangerous, but it is especially dangerous in a heavy truck that has large blind spots and limited maneuverability. Truck drivers who recklessly put others at risk can, and should, be held accountable, and their employers can generally be held accountable as well.
- Failing to Use a Spotter When Necessary – When it is not possible for a truck driver to see what is behind the truck, using a spotter can help ensure the driver does not back into a person or vehicle. Failing to use a spotter when necessary is also a form of negligence for which financial compensation is available.
- Backing Up Into Oncoming Traffic – As a general rule, truck drivers should back into parking spaces, alleyways, and other tight locations so that they can pull out going forward when they need to leave. Reversing into oncoming traffic with limited visibility is dangerous for obvious reasons, and it can lead to serious collisions.
- Making Other Mistakes While Reversing – Turning the steering wheel the wrong way, pressing the wrong pedal, and other driving mistakes can also lead to dangerous reversing accidents. In many cases, one minor mistake is all it takes to cause a lifetime of negative consequences.
- Failing to Repair or Replace Broken Mirrors, Burnt-Out Bulbs, or Non-Functioning Sirens – In addition to truck driver negligence, various issues with trucks themselves can also cause and contribute to reversing accidents. Broken mirrors, burnt-out reverse light bulbs, non-functioning sirens that fail to beep in order to warn passersby, and other truck-related issues can all potentially support claims for financial compensation.
What Can (and Should) Trucking Companies and Other Employers Do to Prevent Reversing Accidents?
Given the risks associated with backing-up work trucks, delivery trucks, tractor-trailers, and other large commercial vehicles, what can (and should) trucking companies and other employers do to prevent reversing accidents? These companies have an obligation to ensure that their employees and vehicles do not present risks to other motorists, workers, and pedestrians, and failure to do any of the following can potentially support a claim for financial compensation as well:
- Ensure Truck Drivers Are Appropriately Licensed – All truck drivers must be appropriately licensed. Prior to hiring truck drivers and putting them behind the wheel, trucking companies and other employers must ensure that they have valid commercial driver licenses (CDLs).
- Ensure Truck Drivers Have Adequate Training – Safely operating a commercial truck requires both education and practice. In addition to ensuring that their truck drivers are licensed, trucking companies and other employers must also ensure that their drivers have the skills required in order to do the job safely.
- Ensure Truck Drivers Know Their Trucks – Commercial trucks vary widely in their maneuverability and visibility. Trucking companies and other employers must ensure that their drivers are familiar with their trucks before sending them out on jobs.
- Comply with State and Federal Trucking Safety Regulations – State and federal trucking safety regulations impose numerous requirements and restrictions, from ensuring that trucks have operational lights to limit the number of hours drivers can spend behind the wheel. Failure to comply with these regulations is a factor in many reversing accidents.
- Maintain Trucks in Good Operating Condition – In addition to complying with state and federal trucking safety regulations, trucking companies and other employers must also generally maintain their trucks in good operating condition. From broken mirrors to brake failures, there are numerous maintenance issues that can increase the risk of backing-up accidents.
Regardless of the specific circumstances involved, if you or a loved one has been hit by a reversing commercial truck, you should speak with a lawyer about your legal rights. An experienced commercial trucking accident lawyer will be able to determine if you have a claim and prove liability for your losses. Our lawyers represent accident victims and families throughout Oregon and Washington, and you can contact us 24/7 to schedule a free consultation.
Schedule a Free Consultation at D’Amore Law Group
For more information about your legal rights following a reversing truck accident in Oregon or Washington, contact D’Amore Law Group to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced commercial truck accident attorneys. You can reach us by phone 24/7, or tell us how we can reach you and a member of our firm will be in touch shortly.