Large trucks such as 18-wheelers are much larger than passenger trucks, have a longer stopping distance when the brakes are applied. When a truck collides with a car, the truck always wins. Damages and injuries can be devastating, even in a seemingly minor traffic accident with a passenger vehicle. There are many factors to consider in a semi-truck accident, and having an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side will help you navigate the confusing legal system after a semi-truck accident.
Commercial Truck Accidents
If you are involved in a commercial truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the commercial truck company’s insurance policy. An experienced truck accident lawyer will help you ask the right questions and negotiate with commercial trucking regulations and insurance to seek the maximum compensation for your injuries and help get your life back on track.
Tractor-trailer accidents often result in severe, life-altering injuries, including permanent disability, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and may cause death and the loss of love to those family members and friends who survive. If negligence on the part of the owner of the tractor-trailer leads to your accident, you should consult an experienced attorney to get the maximum compensation for the losses, pain and suffering you’ve endured.
Fatigued Truck Driving Accidents
Federal trucking regulations require that drivers must not continue to drive while fatigued, but unrealistic deadlines and pressure from trucking companies may lead truck drivers to work excessively long hours despite the fatigue. This is a dangerous combination for other drivers on the road, as well as for the driver of the truck. Experienced truck accident attorneys have knowledge of federal trucking regulations and can read and interpret trucking logs to see if the driver was encouraged to drive even while fatigued.
Negligent Maintenance Truck Accidents
Trucks, especially commercial trucks, require regular routine and preventative maintenance measures to ensure the safety of the truck on the road. These maintenance routines include checks of the braking equipment, tires, and steering components. If a driver is not trained to perform these maintenance routines, or if the routines are not performed both before and after each trip, this could lead to devastating accidents.
Intoxicated or Impaired Truck Driving Accidents
There are many reasons a driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but if this impairment leads to a truck accident, you are entitled to fair compensation for your physical pain, loss of work, as well as damages to your vehicle. Long-distance truckers are under serious pressure to meet delivery deadlines and log as many miles as possible, and this may lead to the use of stimulants or other intoxicants to continue driving while fatigued.
Speeding Truck Accidents
An 18-wheeler or semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which means that its stopping distance is much longer than that of a passenger vehicle. Consequently, if a large truck is speeding, a common occurrence on long-distance truck routes, the reaction time and stopping distance could spell disaster for other drivers on the road.
Under-Ride Truck Accidents
An “under-ride” accident is when a passenger vehicle becomes pinned underneath a larger semi-truck, 18-wheeler, or tractor-trailer accident. These accidents may be caused by an oversight in the truck driver’s blind spot, or, more often, by the smaller vehicle trying to change lanes directly into the undercarriage of a truck. This kind of accident is especially dangerous, and has a much higher fatality rate than other types of truck accidents.
Our firm and many other safety advocates have lobbied for increased safety which would also include guards mandatorily placed on the sides of trailers. So far, these efforts have been opposed by trucking groups who claim they are too heavy or too expensive. Yet, they could be purchased for very little money, especially when compared to the potential cost of lives lost.
Negligent Hiring of Truck Drivers
Trucking companies are required by law to verify that long-distance truck drivers are competent and capable safe drivers, especially because they are handling large, heavy machinery for long periods of time, for long hours. These requirements have been modified recently by the requirement of mandatory electronic logging devices, which automatically record driving and on duty time. However, these devices are not fail-safe and can be altered. If a negligent driver is behind the wheel of a large semi-truck or 18-wheeler, this could have dire consequences and lead to serious injury or even death.
Improperly Loaded Truck Accidents
When a truck is carrying a large load, it is required to be adequately and properly secured with the weight of the cargo evenly distributed, so as not to be a hazard to other drivers on the road. However, if a load is not properly secured, it can cause serious accidents, resulting in devastating injuries or even death. Drivers are required to check their load before a trip, but also periodically along the trip, and if this routine check is skipped, this means that the driver is liable for putting other drivers on the road at risk. If loads shift during or after transit, they can fall on adjacent traffic or on persons unloading cargo.
Vicarious Liability for Truck Accidents of the Contract or Primary Motor Carrier
When a large trucking company receives a shipping assignment, they may “bid out” the contract to the cheapest company, whether they have the means or resources to ensure that the assignment is completed safely. If the assignment results in a crash, the larger trucking company may try to avoid liability and refuse to compensate the victims. This is when it is imperative to have a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer on your side, so you are aware of your rights and will be fairly compensated for your accident. Such cases may involve “negligent hiring” or “negligent selection.” Under some circumstances, the large company may also be held “vicariously liable” for the acts of the driver. To determine so, an experienced trucking attorney must understand all the laws and regulations that apply and how they have been interpreted by the courts.
Negligent Hiring or Selection of Incompetent Motor Carriers
Important decisions regarding supply chain safety begin at the moment shippers and transportation brokers decide to hire motor carriers to haul cargo. Both shippers and transportation brokers are required by industry standards, common law and the Restatement of Torts (e.g., Section 411) to use reasonable care in hiring and selecting of motor carriers. Not only should a reasonably safe shipper or broker inquire and verify the safety history of motor carriers engaged to haul cargo, they should also verify their financial stability and insurance levels. Most of these investigations can be done by using publicly-available information on websites maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and through direct inquiry to the motor carrier.
Call an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
If you think you any of these circumstances may have played a part in injuries you or a loved one have suffered recently, do not hesitate to call Matthew Wright of Wright Law, PLC to speak with an experienced truck accident attorney.