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Who May Be Liable for a Semi-Truck Lane Departure Accident?

red truck on snowy roadSemi-trucks and other commercial big rigs are prone to lane-departure accidents, and when they happen, the results can be catastrophic.

If you suffered injuries in a lane-departure truck crash, our qualified attorneys at Jay Trucks and Associates are prepared to help. Find out if you may have a case – it is convenient, easy and completely free. Call our law offices to learn more and schedule your free and confidential, no-obligation consultation.

What is a Lane-Departure Truck Crash?

When a semi-truck or other commercial motor vehicle (CMV) unexpectedly departs his or her lane of traffic, the risk for a crash is high. The size and weight of any CMV makes it harder, even for experienced drivers, to regain control in a hazardous situation.

Examples of a lane-departure CMV collision include:

  • Drifting into another lane
  • Veering into oncoming traffic
  • Changing lanes without properly signaling

In any of these situations, other smaller vehicles, such as cars or motorcycles, may not be able to get out of the way in time.

CMV accidents caused by a sudden and unexpected lane departure are more common than you may realize. These incidents – also called a roadway departure – caused more than 19,158 deaths between 2016 and 2018. That statistic accounts for an astonishing 51 percent of all traffic deaths across the country, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Who May Be Liable for Causing a Lane-Departure Truck Crash?

In a lane-departure truck crash, often the driver is liable, but other parties, including the trucking company, third-party maintenance provider or even a product manufacturer may share responsibility. However, before determining liability, investigators first have to understand what caused the truck to veer into another lane of traffic. Truck crashes due to roadway departures may be caused by:

Drowsy Driving

Truck drivers may often struggle with staying awake at the wheel due to demanding employer pressures to meet unreasonable deadlines. The recently extended hours of service regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may also contribute to trucker fatigue.

Distracted Driving

Drivers checking texts or using their cellphone can quickly drift out of a lane and cause a lane-departure truck crash. Unfortunately, many of these truck drivers, especially less-experienced ones, may overcorrect and make the situation worse.

Tire Blowout

Tire blowouts and failed brakes are just two examples of equipment failures that can lead to a serious roadway departure truck crash. CMV owners may be liable for improper vehicle maintenance or in some cases, a manufacturer may be liable for a defective product.

Drunk Driving

Any driver operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be impacted by a slower response time or blurry vision. Drunk drivers are also often more reckless. When operating an 18-wheeler or other big rig, the results can be catastrophic.

Sudden Medical Emergencies

Medical emergencies are not uncommon for those working in the trucking industry. Driving a CMV involves hours of sitting, making truckers at a higher risk for certain medical conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.

These and other conditions, including seizures, blackouts or a heart attack, can cause a roadway departure accident. Driver liability in this situation may apply if they knew – or should have known about their medical condition. In some cases, truckers may still drive if under a doctor’s care – and following his or her treatment plan.


The FHWA studied national crash data to learn more about roadway departure accidents, with unexpected results. More than 50 percent of roadway departure crashes are speed-related and happen on secondary and local roads, not highways or interstates.

Technology Designed to Help Truck Drivers Avoid Lane-Departure Collisions

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automatic emergency braking (AEB) offer some high-tech solutions to assist drivers with road safety.

ADAS includes a multitude of safety technologies, including:

  • Lane Departure Warning assistance (LDW)
  • Lane Keeping Assist technology (LKA)
  • Lane Centering Assist technology (LCA)
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Intelligent headlamp technology
  • Automatic windshield wipers
  • Eyelid monitoring

Efforts by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are underway to help make many of these technologies a mandatory requirement in larger commercial trucks. Some trucking companies that are already using driver assistance technology claim up to 50 percent less truck accidents.

How Can You Avoid a Lane-Departure Truck Crash?

You can help to avoid a lane-departure truck accident – or any accident involving a CMV by:

  • Predictable driving: Properly use your turn signals to indicate where you are going.
  • Staying out blind spots: The four major blind spots for trucks are directly in front of, directly behind, and along each side.
  • When passing alongside a truck: If you do not see the driver’s face in the sideview mirror, they cannot see you.
  • When passing in front of a truck: Allow more distance, or they may not see you.
  • If pulling over: A trucker may not see you on their right and may hit you or your car.
  • Err on the side of caution when a truck is turning: Trucks require more time to turn and may be traveling faster than you think.
  • Being right is not as important as being alive: If a truck wants to get past you – let them.
  • Do not spend a lot of time driving near a truck: Safely drive past – or pull back – to allow trucks to carry on without you. Trucks often drop cargo or have tire blowouts without warning.
  • Do not drive distracted: Do not juggle texting, technology or conversations while driving.
  • Consider bad weather: Avoid driving in bad weather when possible. If you must go out, allow more time and take additional precautions.

Injured in a Lane-Departure Accident? Our Firm is Prepared to Help

Why leave your claim to chance? At Jay Trucks, our Grand Rapids-based truck accident lawyers have years of experience. We are prepared to fight for your best interests, including handling all communication with third parties on your behalf.

Call our law offices today to learn more about how we may be able to help you.

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