In a truck accident, a truck driver might say they weren't able to stop in time because their truck was too big to stop that fast. This might sound reasonable, but does it mean they aren't liable for an accident?
A Truck Driver Has to Maintain a Safe Following Distance
A truck driver has a responsibility to make sure he doesn't run into anything while his vehicle is moving. He must watch where he's going and keep his speed under the speed limit. He also has to maintain a safe following distance from other cars.
A safe following distance means enough time to stop the truck. A truck takes longer to stop than a car, so a truck driver has to leave more room than a car would. If a truck hits something, the truck driver may be held liable for damages if they could've prevented the accident.
Heavy Traffic is Not an Excuse
A reason truck drivers give for following too closely is that there was a lot of traffic or other drivers would cut them off if they left room. The fact that there is a lot of traffic doesn't change the truck driver's responsibility.
The truck driver has to put safety first. If a truck driver gives an excuse like keeping other cars from cutting in, that could actually increase their liability.
Weather is Not an Excuse
Weather is also not an excuse for not maintaining a safe following distance. Truck drivers are trained to know they take longer to stop on wet or icy roads.
Therefore, the truck driver needs to give even more room during poor weather. Again, any reasons the driver might give for not giving more room are irrelevant since a safe following distance is the driver's first responsibility.
What if Another Driver Stopped Quickly?
Another driver stopping in front of a truck is more complicated. If you were driving down the road and had to stop for a hazard, the truck driver would be liable. A safe following distance includes the possibility of you having to slam on your brakes.
The truck driver might have a defense if another driver cut them off then suddenly slowed or stopped. If you want to win your truck accident case, you'll need to be prepared to show this isn't what happened if the truck driver tries to use it as their defense.
To learn more about when a truck is liable for an accident, contact a local truck accident lawyer today.