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Tractor Trailer Accidents

TRACTOR TRAILER ACCIDENTS REQUIRE EXPERTISE

The average semi truck operating on America roadways can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, which is 20 times the average size of a standard passenger car.  Truck drivers and trucking companies are subject to complex safety rules imposed by both federal and state laws regarding safety.  Accidents involving tractor trailer trucks are often hard to reconstruct and the injuries are severe at least but frequently result in death.  Trucking accident cases are not cases that should be worked by one lawyer or a law firm that is inexperienced in handling these cases.

We have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for victims of trucking accidents.  In severe truck crashes, we deploy a team of experts including trucking lawyers, trucking operations experts, accident reconstruction engineers, aerial drones photographers and medical doctors to handle your case.  Immediate action is required! The sooner we can get involved in your case, the better.  Evidence can go missing, the scene can become hard to reconstruct and witnesses may be hard to find with the passage of time.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a commercial truck accident, please contact us immediately.

TRACTOR TRAILER DRIVER LIABILITY

Unlike other private vehicle drivers, the drivers and companies that operate or own commercial trucks are subject to a complex array of safety regulations imposed by both federal and state authorities.  The Code of Federal Regulations that apply to truck drivers can be found here.  Truck drivers and trucking companies are also subject to safety monitoring by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Additionally, some common was that truck drivers cause truck crashes include:

Driver Fatigue - Trucking companies set mileage goals for drivers.  Drivers are pushed hard to drive hundreds of miles quickly and on strict deadlines for delivery/pickup.  However, there are regulations in place that require drivers to have a certain amount of rest and to log their daily activities.  Drivers often either ignore these requirements or find ways around them.  This leads to the driver of a 12,000 to 80,000 pound machine driving between 55-70 miles per hour in some cases being distracted by fatigue in spite of what the law requires.

Driver Error - Truck drivers are subject to more rules of the road than drivers of private vehicles.  They should be expected to act as expert drivers.  Sometimes they do not and people get injured.  Common errors include improper driving, following to close to vehicles in front of them, excessive speeding ,failing to yield to other drivers, improper lane changing and illegal turning.  

Distracted and Drunk Drivers - As horrifying as it may seem, we have handled countless cases over the years involving drivers that are either intoxicated on alcohol or drugs or distracted by telephones or other devices.  These cases require special attention early on in terms of preserving evidence and frequently lead to larger settlements due to punitive damages, which are damages that the law permits that are intended to punish conduct.

Improperly Maintained and/or Equipped Trucks - Semi trucks travel thousands of miles per week creating more wear and tear than what is typically seen on a private automobile.  Defective windshields, tires, lights and trailers can lead to accidents.  Some parts of a tractor trailer truck, for example can be hard to see at night.  For example, semi trucks are required to maintain reflect strips, known as conspicuity reflective tape, on the back of trailers so that they can be seen in the dark more easily.  In many cases it is the fault of both the driver and the trucking company in these cases.

Improperly Loaded Cargo - Cargo that has not been properly loaded can shift during travel resulting in changes in how the truck operates or fall off of the truck into oncoming traffic.  The driver may be held responsible when this happens.  However, in many case liability may fall on the trucking company, the truck broker or shipper that loaded the truck.

NEGLIGENT HIRING/RETENTION/SUPERVISION OF DRIVERS BY TRUCKING COMPANIES

Companies that operate tractor trailer trucks can be held liable for the negligent acts of their drivers under most circumstances, however, the analysis must go deeper and the law requires more.  Companies owe a duty to the general public to only employ the best drivers.  Drivers who have bad driving records, inexperienced backgrounds, a history of accidents or criminal behavior in their past should be avoided.  Once a driver has been employed by a company it is important for the company to supervise them properly.  Many modern trucks include computer devises and cameras to maintain driver accountability for issues such as speed and alertness.  The circumstances obviously vary from case to case but the law is very clear that a company cannot employ, retain or fail to properly supervise drivers.  

TRACTOR TRAILER ACCIDENT TO-DO LIST

Seek Medical Treatment Immediately

Call 911 or ask someone to do so if you are not able to make the call on your own.  Report all injuries.  When EMS arrives start at the top of your head and go the bottom of your feet listing all areas of your body that are experiencing any level of pain or discomfort.  Do not leave anything out and travel via ambulance to the hospital.

Photograph/Video the Scene

Unless you are too injured to do so, take photos and videos of the scene.  Use your mobile device if it is available.  Trucking accidents are incredibly difficult to reconstruct and this may assist our experts in determining how the accident happened.

Identify Witnesses If Possible

It is s remarkable how often we receive a police report in trucking accidents that contain no witnesses, yet experience tells us that there are a plethora of drivers who stop at the scene of these accidents to either render assistance or just see what is happening.  To the extent possible, get the names and contact information of all witnesses.

Hire an Experienced Trucking Accident Attorney NOW

You cannot handle these cases without a lawyer.  Having an experienced lawyer is important in all cases but this is especially true in a trucking accident.  The reasons are as follows:

Evidence will be Destroyed

The trucking company will destroy evidence as soon as possible following an accident.  Electronic devices that include data about the truck and its driver may be erased or reused.  This evidence can often unearth valuable facts about how fatigued the driver may be or how the truck was being operated prior to and at the time of the accident.  Documents and records regarding the history of the driver and logs may be altered or thrown away.  Accident reconstruction is often very important in these cases.  The truck itself often needs to be inspected by one of our experts.  If you wait to hire a lawyer, this evidence will be gone and quickly

We also see cases where medical evidence is lacking.  Perhaps the injured victim does not have insurance or was working at the time of the accident.  These are issues that we can assist with to make sure you receive proper treatment and diagnosis and receive all the benefits you are entitled to.

Insurance Policy Information May Never Be Discovered

Semi trucks that operate interstate must carry at least $750,000 in coverage but most carry at least one million dollars in coverage.  Surprisingly this is not enough coverage in many cases.  We may be able to identify other insurance that applies for the trucking company, broker, shipper or others associated with the business transactions surrounding the truck at the time of the accident. This requires legal expertise.

Insurance Coverage May be Used Up by Others 

In our experience trucking accidents often involve injuries to multiple people.  Often the policy limits on commercial vehicles often run out before a person who waits to hire a lawyer does not get to the table before the insurance coverage is used up by other injured parties.  Call us for a free trucking accident review in all cases but especially cases where you know that multiple people were involved. 

The Proper Parties that are Responsible for the Accident May Never Be Identified

There are typically more than one party in these cases.  Trucking companies, shippers, brokers and receivers may become parties as a case unfolds.  In most cases, these land in federal court.  It is virtually impossible for someone who is not experienced in handling trucking accidents successfully navigate this legal minefield.

For a free trucking case review call us now!

 

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