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What Causes Tractor Trailer Accidents?

July 31, 2023 Legal Team

Tractor trailer accidents can lead to catastrophic outcomes given their massive size and heavy load. Identifying what triggers these devastating incidents is paramount in fostering safer roads for all users. If you’ve been injured by a tractor trailer, it’s also helpful to know who is responsible and whether you are eligible for compensation. To determine this, it’s essential to understand the causes of these accidents. Some of the most common causes of tractor trailer accidents include the following.

What Causes Tractor Trailer Accidents


Long hours behind the wheel without enough breaks or rest periods pose a serious risk as fatigue impairs judgment and slows down reaction time significantly. Laws exist that restrict driving hours to combat this issue, but enforcing strict adherence remains challenging.

If a tractor trailer accident is caused by driver fatigue and it’s established that the employer pressured them to violate hours of service regulations, the employer could be held liable. These rules were formulated to ensure commercial drivers have adequate rest periods between shifts for their safety as well as the safety of others on road.

Pressure on Drivers

Pressure exerted onto tractor-trailer drivers often comes from demanding delivery deadlines requiring rigorous schedules. This leads to speeding, fatigue, and mistakes on the road, all of which can cause serious accidents.

If a driver is involved in an accident because they felt pressure to complete a delivery and violated safety rules or regulations in the process, then they are likely to be held liable for resulting damages. It’s possible that their employer could be partially liable as well. 

Defective Parts 

Sometimes, these large vehicle crashes stem from mechanical failures or part defects. For example, faulty brakes. 

Defective parts on a tractor trailer are one common cause of these accidents. The responsibility here typically falls on the manufacturer who improperly designed or produced the faulty part.

Distracted driving 

When truck drivers aren’t paying attention to road conditions or their surroundings due to activities such as texting, eating, or fiddling with radio controls, they are at a much greater chance of causing an accident. 

If the operator of a tractor-trailer is distracted and becomes involved in an accident, liability typically falls on the driver.  

Other Parties That May Be Liable

While it may seem like the driver should always held responsible in a tractor trailer accident, there can also be instances where other parties are responsible, including:

Loading Company: If they overloaded the cargo or failed to correctly balance it onto a rig, causing it to topple over during transportation, their negligence could contribute towards the accident. As a result, they may be held liable for damages to the truck driver and any other injured parties involved in the accident. 

Negligent Maintenance: Similarly, negligent truck maintenance – for example failure by mechanics in performing scheduled upkeep or the use of inferior replacement parts – can result in problems with the truck that eventually lead to an accident. If this is the case, it’s possible that the mechanic or the company they work for, depending on the situation, could be held liable for damages.

Another Driver: If another vehicle driver on the road acted recklessly, ignored traffic regulations, or was otherwise negligent and caused the accident involving the tractor trailer, the driver of the car may be liable for your injuries and losses.

If you’ve been involved in an accident with a tractor trailer, you may be entitled to compensation, but it can be difficult to determine who is at fault. Our Phoenix truck accident lawyers can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.