All motor vehicle accidents are complex, but when an oversized commercial truck is involved, they become even more so. Though many commercial truck accidents are similar to car accidents, like head-on collisions and rear-end accidents, there are also accidents that are unique to large trucks, such as jackknife accidents, override accidents, and underride accidents.
Any commercial truck accident can easily cause severe injuries, disability, or death to those involved. Just like with car accidents, truck accidents are also prone to factors such as roadway conditions, inclement weather, mechanical failures, and driver negligence that have to be taken into consideration. Our truck accident attorneys can advise you on the best course of legal action for your situation.
In addition to the variety of ways a truck accident can happen, there can also be multiple liable parties that should be held responsible for any damage sustained from the wreck. Unlike car accidents, in which the vast majority of cases are usually settled with the insurance company of the at-fault driver, truck accidents often get complicated with regard to liability. Defendants in a lawsuit for a truck accident could be the truck driver, the owner of the truck, the trucking company, or even a manufacturing company if the accident occurred due to a mechanical issue.
Large trucks make up a tiny percent of all registered vehicles nationwide, but per unit of travel, they are involved in more deadly accidents than passenger vehicles.
Any truck with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of over 10,000 pounds is considered large. A lot of large trucks, however, weigh far more than 10,000 pounds. The overall weight of a truck depends on the kind of truck, the size of its trailer, and the cargo it is carrying. Federal transportation guidelines state that a tractor-trailer combo can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 80% of all large trucks involved in deadly accidents weighed more than 26,000 pounds. The NHTSA notes that trucks that weigh more than 26,000 pounds are referred to as heavy large trucks. Their larger mass causes a much greater amount of damage during a collision with a smaller vehicle. With an average weight of roughly 4,000 pounds, a passenger car is simply not able to withstand the impact of a 26,000-pound commercial truck.
When you hear the phrase “large trucks”, it probably calls to mind the image of an 18-wheeler traveling along a highway. However, if you are someone who uses the roadways, you likely see a wide variety of large commercial trucks every day.
Based on the vehicle class and weight, many other kinds of commercial vehicles fall inside of the heavy large truck or large truck classifications, such as:
Regardless of a truck’s particular classification, they all have enough power and weight to cause severe damage during a collision. If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact our national truck accident lawyers at Burg Simpson for a free, no-obligation consultation.
There are three primary factors that make commercial truck accidents different from basic car accidents. Those three factors are:
The weight and size of a commercial truck are immense enough to drastically affect the aftermath of any accident. An accident involving a large truck is much more likely to be catastrophic and lead to serious injuries and deaths. When the driver of a 65,000-pound vehicle moving at a high rate of speed loses control of their vehicle, especially if it is transporting an unsecured or unstable payload, the outcome is going to be vastly different than when a driver loses control of the family sedan.
The trucking industry is subject to extremely rigorous state and federal rules and regulations. For instance, truck operators are only allowed to drive a set number of consecutive hours every day, and are legally required to spend a set number of hours resting before they get behind the wheel again. Trucking companies have a legal obligation to adequately check out, train, and monitor their employees in order to make sure that they understand the various rules and regulations and obey them every single time. If the trucking companies and their drivers fail to abide by the regulations set forth by the government, and a violation results in a fatal or injury-causing accident, the victim’s compensation will be considerably higher than it would be for the same or a similar accident involving a non-commercial vehicle.
When a commercial vehicle accident takes place, it is not uncommon for additional parties besides the driver to share in liability. Typically, in a basic car accident, one driver was negligent, which led to the accident, and the at-fault driver will be held accountable. In an accident involving a commercial vehicle, however, liability can extend past the person who was operating the truck when the crash occurred to the business or government agency that employs the driver or is responsible for the upkeep of the vehicle or maintenance of the roadway.
If you were seriously injured in an accident involving any kind of commercial vehicle, it is critical that you speak with a lawyer who has years of knowledge and prior experience in dealing with truck accidents. Being a personal injury lawyer is simply not enough. Your attorney needs to know what makes trucking accidents different than car accidents as well as all of the numerous rules and regulations that apply to your specific situation.
The agency tasked with the regulation of the country’s commercial trucking industry is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Every single commercial truck operator, freight company, and government agency that deals in any way, shape, or form with commercial vehicles is required to obey these regulations and rules or else they will encounter some pretty harsh penalties.
The idea behind all of these regulations and rules is to ensure the safety of everyone on America’s roadways. Anytime a collision involving a commercial truck takes place, there are usually several contributing factors, and the outcomes are typically serious, resulting in severe injury and death. In most cases, accidents happen because the truck operator or their parent company has broken federal or state law by:
A recent study determined that negligence on the part of the truck driver is ten times more likely to result in serious commercial trucking accidents than any other single factor. Drowsy driving can cause a driver to fall asleep at the wheel, delay their response times which can cause them to lose control of their truck, result in an inability to concentrate or lead to alcohol or drug abuse. In an effort to avoid these situations, directives from the federal government mandate that:
In almost every state, the driver of a non-commercial vehicle is considered to be legally impaired to drive if they have a blood-alcohol level of .08% or more. Drivers of commercial vehicles, however, are held to a different standard. A commercial driver is considered legally impaired to drive if they have a blood-alcohol level of .04% or more. This is due to the fact that the consequences of being drunk behind the wheel of an oversized commercial truck tend to be a lot more serious than the consequences of being drunk behind the wheel of a passenger vehicle.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations mandate that commercial truck operators be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol. Trucking companies have to conduct periodic, surprise tests. Any truck operator who tests positive for drugs, even prescription ones, or alcohol, can be taken off of duty.
Delaying or ignoring necessary maintenance and repairs can have fatal consequences. That is why the FMCSA set forth minimum standards for the inspections of commercial vehicles. Freight companies are required to develop training programs as well as maintenance, repair, and safety benchmarks, and all repairs and safety inspections have to be satisfactorily documented.
Trucks that are excessively tall or unduly heavy are much more difficult to control. They also pose a heightened risk of crashes with other vehicles, and vehicle rollovers, and can cause serious damage to the road itself, which will adversely impact other drivers.
For this reason, the FMCSA has designated specific weight limits for trucks in order to stop freight companies and truck operators from surpassing the safe load weight and height thresholds.
National maximum weight regulations for commercial vehicles are as follows:
Single Axle: 20,000 lbs
Tandem Axle: 34,000 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight: 80,000 lbs
Height limits are not defined by federal regulations and are therefore subject to state laws which can vary.
Federal regulations have also mandated that truckers must stop periodically at weigh stations so law enforcement officials can ensure that they are in compliance with these criteria. Some truck operators and freight companies attempt to save money by overloading their vehicles and will go out of their way to bypass these checkpoints.
Overloading a commercial truck can produce catastrophic results, especially if the uneven weight distribution causes the driver to lose control of their vehicle. Accidents caused by overloaded commercial trucks can result in serious or even fatal collisions.
If you were seriously injured in an accident involving a commercial truck of any kind, call Burg Simpson today for a free case review. We can help you secure the financial compensation you deserve and are entitled to.
The causes of commercial truck accidents are as numerous and varied as the causes of any other kind of motor vehicle accident. Most of the time, several different factors contribute to an accident. The most common causes of commercial truck accidents include:
Speeding and Aggressive Driving
Trucking companies like to argue that safety is their number one priority, and they expect their truck drivers to obey the law, including operating their vehicles at a safe speed. The truth, however, is that they are a business that wants to make a profit. Truck operators are often bribed with incentives for getting their cargo delivered ahead of schedule, no matter how they accomplish it, and penalized if they do not meet a scheduled delivery time.
In order to save both money and time, truck operators and their parent companies often speed through mandatory safety inspections and put off expensive or labor-intensive repairs so they don’t have to deal with the setback of taking their vehicles out of service.
Driver Distraction and Fatigue
All freight companies are required to ensure that their drivers are properly vetted, trained, and managed. Even though federal laws limit the amount of hours that a commercial truck driver is permitted to spend on the roadway between scheduled breaks, a lot of freight companies and drivers will violate these regulations if given the chance. When the person behind the wheel of an oversized commercial truck is tired, distracted, poorly trained, or poorly supervised, they pose a serious danger to themselves and to everyone around them on the roadway.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
As previously mentioned, the drivers of commercial vehicles are held to a different standard than non-commercial drivers when it comes to being under the influence and getting behind the wheel. This is because of the dangers that are inherent in driving a vehicle of that size. Although freight companies are legally required to perform random, surprise tests, and obligated to remove a driver from duty if they fail the test, they sometimes slip through cracks in the system or have an employer who is willing to look the other way.
Improperly Loaded Cargo and Unsecured Cargo
Federal mandates govern the height and weight limits of large commercial vehicles. All truck operators and freight loaders receive training regarding the dangers of cargo moving during transport and how they can stop this from occurring. Anytime a commercial truck is not properly loaded, it can become too tall or too heavy which increases the odds of severe damage to the roadways, a loss of vehicle control, collisions with other vehicles, and vehicle rollovers. Trucks that are overburdened or erroneously loaded present a very real hazard to others on the roadways and can even result in a serious injury or fatality.
Poor Driving Conditions and Inclement Weather
At some point, almost every driver is going to encounter unfavorable weather conditions. Sadly, it is not uncommon for a truck driver who is in a rush to meet a deadline to refuse to adjust their driving behaviors as the weather changes. This negligent behavior can easily result in a serious accident involving several other vehicles.
Liability is one of the factors that make large truck accidents different from other motor vehicle accidents, because multiple parties may have played a role. This means that multiple parties need to be listed as defendants in any lawsuit designed to compensate a truck accident victim. These parties often include:
The financial compensation that is recoverable following a large truck accident that causes injuries or wrongful death will vary from case to case but often includes:
If you were injured or lost a member of your family in a large truck accident, you could be entitled to significant financial compensation. It is important for you to reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. The law firm of Burg Simpson offers all potential clients a free case evaluation. Give us a call today.
After sustaining an injury during a large truck accident, you will have no choice but to deal with a frustrating and complex legal system if you hope to recover damages. Some victims decide to handle their own personal injury claims, which is their right.
Unfortunately, obtaining full and fair financial compensation for your damages is quite challenging, particularly when you are going up against a major trucking company while you are also recovering from your injuries and stressed about paying your hospital bills.
By working with a qualified truck accident attorney, you can reduce your stress considerably, increase your chances of getting a much higher payout, and focus your time and energy on your physical recovery.
A truck accident attorney is a personal injury attorney who specializes in accident cases involving large commercial trucks. The majority of reputable personal injury attorneys operate on something called a contingency-fee basis. In other words:
Many truck accident attorneys operate this way because it makes it possible for anyone regardless of financial status to receive quality legal representation. It also guarantees that your attorney is doing everything possible to earn you a favorable outcome. If you don’t get paid, neither do they.
A contingency fee also makes it possible for you to bypass the chance of being subject to an hourly rate that can leave you with large attorney fees even if you lose your case.
If you were injured in a commercial truck accident, you are probably considering working with a lawyer to strengthen your claim. When choosing an attorney, most potential clients only want to know whether or not they have a valid case. Although this is obviously an important question, there are several more that you need to ask during your first consultation. The answers the lawyer gives you will help you determine if they are right for you and your truck accident case. Some other important questions that you should ask of any potential attorney include:
A truck accident is an extremely upsetting event. It is not uncommon for accident victims to want to move on with their life by concentrating on healing and just forgetting the whole thing ever happened. We know that the thought of filing a lawsuit and potentially going to trial is scary, but if you sustained serious injuries and were unable to work, a truck accident injury claim is most likely worth pursuing.
If you were involved in a crash with a commercial truck, you should seriously consider hiring an experienced truck accident attorney if:
If you were involved in a truck accident and any of the scenarios listed above apply to your case, you should speak with a reputable truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Based on the specifics of your individual accident, your personal injury lawyer will assist you in identifying all liable parties. In a commercial truck accident, you may be able to bring a suit for damages against:
Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to sue multiple parties. The average amount of financial compensation can vary from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand and will be based on your overall damages.
Based on the factors listed below, the truck operator, the freight company, or both could be liable for your truck accident:
For example, if you were hit by a truck driver who was working at the time of the crash, you could seek financial recovery from their employer. If, however, the trucker who struck you owns the truck and their own shipping business, the company itself can be held liable for any damages. Any number of third parties could also share in being liable for your accident, such as the truck manufacturer, a part manufacturer, the person or company in charge of maintenance and repairs, and many others.
If you are looking for insight as to who might be responsible for your truck accident, call the national law firm of Burg Simpson today and schedule a free consultation.
Most truck accident lawyers work on a contingency fee and do not collect any money unless they win your case. Once you win, your lawyer will take a previously agreed-upon percentage of your award or settlement.
After being involved in a commercial truck accident, there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself and your right to financial compensation. Always make sure that you and everyone else involved in the collision is safe and call for immediate medical care if necessary. If you are able, you should also:
By taking these steps, you are protecting your health and your claim. You are also giving your truck accident attorney a good starting point on your truck accident case that will make assessing your claim and pursuing recovery much faster and easier.
All traffic collisions are not created equal. This is particularly true when comparing car accidents to truck accidents.
The first and most obvious difference between a car accident and a truck accident is the size of the vehicles involved. A commercial truck can weigh up to 80,000 pounds whereas an average passenger vehicle weighs in at around 4,000 pounds. It is physically impossible for a car to withstand the impact of a tractor-trailer without being seriously damaged, and for the occupants of the smaller vehicle, the injuries are often catastrophic.
There are other differences in accidents involving commercial trucks as well. The industry is highly regulated, with many parties who could potentially be held liable for an accident. Since the injuries and other damages caused by a truck accident tend to be much more severe, the total amount of financial compensation available to injured victims is usually much higher than it is for the victims of a car accident.
Other notable distinctions between car and truck accidents include:
While large commercial trucks account for a fairly tiny portion of all vehicles registered in the United States, they are involved in nearly 7% of all fatal and injury-causing collisions every single year.
Choosing a commercial truck accident attorney doesn’t have to be stressful. There are specific qualities that successful lawyers possess that you should keep in mind when choosing who to work with. For instance, a lawyer with years of experience and a higher-than-average success rate is going to be a smarter choice than a lawyer who has worked on a few cases.
While success rates and experience are certainly two of the most critical traits to keep an eye out for when picking an attorney, there are many other features you should be looking for as well, such as:
Every commercial truck accident is different. This makes it challenging to come up with a precise timeline for exactly how long your individual claim will take to settle, although the stronger your case is, the faster it will settle.
If you have enough compelling evidence, the trucker’s insurance company will want to settle your claim as quickly as possible before it goes to court. The claims process will also proceed much quicker if you have an experienced truck accident lawyer helping you with negotiations.
Beware! If you are offered a quick settlement from either insurance company, you should be extremely skeptical. It is a near certainty that what they are offering you is a lot less than what you would get with the aid of a skilled truck accident attorney.
In the majority of states, the statute of limitations on a personal injury case is either two or three years from the day the accident took place. That being said, it is best to reach out to a qualified national truck accident lawyer as soon as you can after an accident. Not only does the statute of limitations vary from state to state, but each state also has a few exceptions to the statutes that could actually give you more or less time to file. Speaking with an attorney quickly is also important because crucial evidence concerning driver logs and vehicle safety standards can easily be destroyed or lost. Getting to work on your case as soon as possible is always the best and smartest option.
An experienced truck accident lawyer from Burg Simpson can take the pressure off of you and walk you through the legal process after enduring a collision with a commercial size truck. To schedule your free initial case evaluation, call our law firm today at (888) 895-2080 or you can fill out the contact form on our website.