Commercial truck accidents involves different aspects than other, normal, automobile accidents. The truck accident lawyer, first of all, tries to understand the specific reasons which caused semi-truck and/or tractor-trailer accident(s). The attorneys need to have the resources which are/would be important to case. It is the essential thing to properly investigate, and have at disposal as the truck accident cases can become unbearably costly to pursue.
Top 10 Truck Accident Causes
The following ten factors were among the top 10 most common reasons that caused truck accidents as per the report provided by The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Have a look at them:
- Brake problems
- Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
- Inadequate surveillance
- Prescription drug use
- Required to stop before crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
- Traveling too fast for conditions
- Roadway problems.
- Unfamiliarity with roadway
- Over-the-counter drug use
Tools Required for a Successful Truck Accident Case
As mentioned above, to completely pursue a truck accident lawsuit, it can be a daunting and expensive prospect for the lawyer. As a result, attorneys working/having thin (or low) budget (or resources) are left with two options. Either they shy away from such cases as they fail to bear the cost/expenditure involved, or they can’t prove certain facts due to the lack of relevant resources at the disposal – so they end up leaving a large sum of money on the table.
So, before hiring an attorney, you need to closely look into his/her profile if they have the required/enough experience and resources. You should look into the following:
- Check whether the lawyer is experienced
- Do the lawyer enough resources?
- Your attorney needs to identify all lines of insurance coverage.
- The law firm should be financial secure as the case may require hiring of an expert to prove complicated subject matters.
- Trucking accident should be thoroughly studied and often require expensive fact finding mission.
Truck Accidents’ Causes
The truck accidents are just like mishaps/accidents that occur with any other vehicle. Sometimes, the semi-truck drivers are the cause of accidents and sometimes the victims. The most common reasons, along with the normal dangers found on the road like distracted drivers and speeding, include the danger of fatigue which arises due to sitting in the wheel for too long. It happens because the salary of truck drivers depend on the load delivered. So, in order to make money, they have to make more deliveries. This is accomplished by driving in long shifts at work. The lack of rest is regulated by different agencies but the rules are often not followed.
The driver’s own negligence can create problems and danger to other vehicles and their drivers. There are times when trucks are not properly loaded or the driver fails to inspect properly before kicking-off the route. Mechanical breakdowns often occur and in turn result into the loss of control over the vehicle which often a 40-ton one. Poorly loaded freight falls down damaging unsuspecting motorists. These are some of the factors of commercial truck accidents.
The injury to victims (which may include truck drivers too) is a variable which depends on the magnitude of an automobile accident. The sheer size and weight of these large commercial vehicles increase the danger of death and serious bodily injuries. Such accidents often result in traumatic brain injuries, broken appendages, bone fractures, neurological damage, among others.
Truck Accident Liability
A truck accident may involve one or many depending upon the accident cause(s). As far as liability is concerned, it may involve a number of parties potentially liable for the case. Liability may include the truck driver, the driver’s employer, the truck manufacturer, or the company who owns and loaded the cargo.
Truck Driver Fatigue
It is the most common act of negligence which involves driving the truck while the driver is tired. Driver fatigue results in thousands of unfortunate and senseless accidents throughout the world including America and other nations. The catastrophe becomes too real when the fatigue becomes an issue. There are certain federal trucking laws known as Hours of Service (HOS) regulations made to keep a check on this specific issue. It governs the following:
- the amount of time a driver can be on the road for a single stretch;
- how much time must be taken off between shifts; and
- how many hours they can log during a specific week.
But, it has become a regularly noted and common thing for drivers to falsify report their driving logs to be able to drive for more time. Often trucking companies ask their drivers to do so. Some of the common factors which result into driver fatigue are as follows:
- Long stretches of night driving
- Irregular schedules with little routine
- Unhealthy eating on the go
- Loading and unloading cargo in between trips
According to the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), the fatigue results in more than 30% of total trucking accidents.
Exposure of the broker or carrier
A broker comes into play while arranging for the transportation or movement of cargo by a motor carrier like semi-truck. In short, the broker is an entity who brings together the truckers and the company that wants to ship goods. On their end, the brokers tracks the movement of goods and the trucks using computer tracking software, and compile data for every task.
The liability of a broker involves in the following ways.
- Did they do their duty in inspecting the motor carrier/truck, safety history of the truck and drivers?
- How much control did the broker exercised over the truck and the driver – right from inspecting the dispatch records, monitoring and reviewing trip records or notes, approving the receipts and bill of lading changes?
Negligent Maintenance and Hiring Claims
The trucking cases become complicated when states’ and federal laws conflict with one another. The law firm should have experts capable of determining if the trucking company utilized faulty equipment or paid negligence to truck maintenance itself.
It can be check from the following:
- Were the tires defective, retread, or unevenly worn?
- Were the brakes, axles, hitches and a variety of other parts working and checked routinely?
- Were the maintenance logs complete, updated, and in accordance with both Florida and federal statute?
The experts are able to determine if the trucking company has taken any shortcuts that may have resulted in a law violation. As far as negligent hiring and retention claims are concerned, the driver’s employment history is examined besides checking the training and experience in operating the vehicle in question. The trucking company should examine the driver’s safety history and criminal record as per the federal and state provisions. Trucking outfits may prove to be a massive liability.
Truck Accident Settlement
After a truck accident has occurred, the victim must be provided appropriate health care to protect his/her health and it may give rise to a mountain of medical bills. In severe health cases, the insurance companies often escape quickly by providing low settlement offers as the accident victims are in hurry to get treatment and close the case. The insurance companies try to settle for as low as possible to get the maximum possible profit for themselves.
You should be aware of rights whether you are the victims of an accident or the cause. Whether you are the truck driver or another motorist to fall victim, you have the right to recover for your injuries. The law firm should also specialize in personal injury law and should have experience with all types of automobile accident claims.
The law firm representing your case should have reputation for aggressively presenting clients to the insurance carriers to maximize clients’ settlement offers. You shouldn’t feel pressurized to take an unreasonable settlement offer. It should be noted by the lawyers to take proper course of action and make a fair offer.
How can a truck accident lawyer help me?
The automobile investigators at the law firm should be able to breakdown and reconstruct the accident scene. They should be able to get to the bottom of the root cause whether it involves driver error, faulty mechanical equipment, or improper loading techniques.
The attorneys should be able to maximize the recovery for the victim of an accident involving a commercial truck – it may be a 18-wheel semi tractor-trailer, a garbage truck, a postal/parcel delivery truck, or an operator of another large vehicle.