When large trucks crash, they cause far more damage than private passenger vehicle accidents. At 10,000 pounds plus, large trucks are massive compared to cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks. When a large vehicle and a smaller vehicle collide, the consequences are often severe. Large trucks’ weight and speed often combine to cause crushing damage, and vehicle occupants often sustain life-altering injuries.
If you’ve been involved in a collision with a truck in San Antonio, you need an experienced truck accident attorney. Specialist truck accident attorneys will know how best to move forward and investigate whether an unqualified truck driver caused the accident. Our experienced truck accident lawyers discuss your avenue for compensation after an unqualified truck driver accident and which parties can be held responsible.
What Is an Unqualified Tanker Truck Driver?
Truckers often speed because they’re driving to beat a deadline. Some truckers drive while exhausted due to lack of sleep and from traveling long distances in short times. Other truckers engage in bad driving habits, such as speeding, driving while distracted, or driving after consuming alcohol or drugs.
Sometimes, truck drivers cause a serious accident because they’re simply unqualified to take a big rig on the road.
Qualified truckers undergo a rigorous application process and training to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). They must log practice driving hours and pass a written commercial driving test plus a series of skill tests. These truckers are deemed qualified once they’ve gone through this rigorous screening and qualification process, as mandated by federal transportation codes and CDL regulations.
All commercial driver’s training, testing, and licensing must comply with federal transportation laws. These regulations spell out qualifications and circumstances that disqualify a driver from obtaining a CDL. Certain criminal and traffic offenses result in CDL disqualification. Some medical conditions, such as poor vision, hearing loss, drug or alcohol addiction, mental illness, and others, prevent drivers from qualifying for interstate or intrastate CDL.
Once a driver obtains a CDL license following CDL regulations, certain criminal and traffic-related offenses subject the driver to temporary disqualification. Repeat offenses may lead to lifetime disqualification.
Consider the following consequences of specific violations of CDL regulations:
- Alcohol violation, leaving the scene of an accident, or certain felony crimes mean one-year CDL disqualifications and a lifetime ban after the second offense.
- Alcohol violation, leaving the scene of an accident, or a felony crime while using a vehicle with a hazardous materials placard means a three-year disqualification and up to a lifetime ban for subsequent violations.
- Two serious traffic offenses mean disqualification of 60 days.
- Three serious traffic offenses mean disqualification of 120 days.
Despite meeting stringent CDL regulations, some truck drivers operate vehicles in ways that cause horrific accidents. Does that make them unqualified? When truckers drive in ways that jeopardize property and destroy people’s lives, those drivers are unqualified to drive commercial trucks.
All Commercial Truck Drivers Must Meet Stringent Qualifications
When drivers are in a state’s CDL licensing system, they’ve technically qualified to drive large trucks according to CDL regulations. Once commercial truckers obtain their license, they qualify to operate only the vehicles included within the class designated on their licenses.
- Class A: Vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds and over or a combination that includes one towed vehicle up to 10,000 GVWR.
- Class B License: Vehicles up to 26,00l pounds GVWR plus a towed vehicle up to 10,000 pounds, and vehicles that transport 24 passengers or more.
- Class C License: A single vehicle or a vehicle combination may transport hazardous materials or 16 to 23 passengers.
CDL holders must also qualify to operate vehicles designated under special license endorsements:
- T: Double or triple trailer
- P: Passenger vehicle
- N: Tanker
- H: hazardous cargo (state and federal background check)
- S: School bus
- X: Tanks and hazardous cargo
Being Unqualified Isn’t Always About Driver Credentials
After a trucker has an accident, there’s usually an evidence trail that suggests whether they were unqualified, and it’s not always about their credentials. Even when truckers have a valid license, some commit unsafe acts while behind the wheel. These truckers either can’t or don’t control their vehicles. They may drive too fast for conditions, use drugs or alcohol, or drive while distracted.
Truckers commit the same risky behaviors as other drivers, but they put multiple lives at risk when they do it. That’s why using a specialist San Antonio truck accident attorney is so important. Our years of experience in this field mean that we know how many accidents are caused by semi-trucks every year and their devastating consequences.
A Trucker’s Driving Speaks for Itself
Each time a commercial truck accident occurs, it’s understood that the truck driver has gone through a rigorous training and testing program. Such drivers have also passed the appropriate tests for their license classifications and endorsements. When you review the risky driving behaviors that cause commercial truck accidents across the country, you realize that some seemingly qualified drivers probably should never have been driving a big truck in the first place.
Truck drivers cause these accidents after engaging in preventable and sometimes dangerous moves.
- Jackknifing: Trucks jackknife due to improper maneuvers on a curve and/or improperly loaded vehicles.
- Speeding: Speeding is a common factor in tractor-trailer accidents, often due to the trucks’ long stopping distances.
- Distraction: Distracted drivers cause accidents because they operate the same way as drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol do.
- Illegal maneuvers: Backing up on a highway and driving on a median are both illegal/and or reckless moves, especially on a highway.
The CDL licensing system qualified the above drivers to operate large commercial trucks and carry hazardous cargo. These drivers remain CDL-qualified until a licensing agency officially disqualifies them.
Why Are There Unqualified Commercial Truck Drivers on the Road?
So just why are unqualified truck drivers being allowed onto our roads to cause accidents? As the leading San Antonio truck accident attorneys, we have seen many truckers who have managed to sneak through the rigorous testing required to get a commercial driver’s license. Some of the most common reasons for unqualified truck drivers to be allowed to drive include the following:
Some Drivers Hide Their Bad Habits
Most frequently, commercial drivers cause accidents because of bad driving habits. Unless they have past criminal convictions, commercial drivers can hide their bad driving tendencies long enough to get the CDL credentials they need. Others develop bad habits over time, such as drinking, speeding, and reaching for their smartphone at 65-miles per hour.
If truckers develop bad habits that render them unqualified to do the job, they may keep working to maintain their current lifestyle and/or income. The average trucker makes approximately $53,347 per year. That’s nearly twice as much as the average factory or office worker. Interstate truckers also have more freedom than workers who are tied to an office or a factory. As the Truck Driver Institute explains, a trucker’s lifestyle gives you a “profound feeling of freedom that can’t be beat.”
Some Drivers Scam the Qualification System
Some prospective truck drivers find assistance when they want to evade mandated driving requirements. Training and licensing scams allow truck drivers to skip critical training and testing steps in the CDL qualification process. These scams have occurred in training schools and third-party testing centers across the country.
- The FBI arrested an employee at the Texas Department of Public Safety commercial licensing division. He allegedly accepted bribes for issuing approximately 200 CDL licenses to Cuban nationals and other immigrant applicants. The bribes allowed them to bypass the required knowledge and skills tests.
- The owner of a Lee County, Alabama, trucking school pled guilty to bribing a licensing examiner. The examiner tested students who hadn’t had their learner’s permits for the required period. If the examiner knew that a student couldn’t pass a specific skill test, he avoided testing for that skill.
Do You Need an Injury Attorney if an Unqualified Trucker Injures You?
If an unqualified trucker has caused you to suffer injuries, you must immediately consult a truck accident attorney. Truck accidents often involve severe injuries and complicated circumstances that you shouldn’t handle on your own.
It can take different amounts of time to settle a semi-truck or 18-wheeler case. That’s because when an unqualified trucker is behind the wheel, you may encounter complex liability issues as well.
Truck accident attorneys intervene with insurers and defense attorneys on your behalf. Attorneys resolve liability issues, evaluate your injuries, and work to get you the best settlement possible, all while protecting your legal interests while you take time to heal.
Contact Your Specialist Truck Accident Attorney in San Antonio
If you have been involved in any kind of accident involving a potentially unqualified truck driver, contact The Patino Law Firm as soon as possible. You will have a free consultation to discuss the case, allowing you to explain the facts of the accident to the professional legal team that is always fighting on your behalf.