Large Truck Litigation
Large trucks are defined as a vehicle that weighs at least 10,000 pounds.
A variety of vehicles fall under the large truck category – tractor-trailers, semi- trucks, eighteen-wheelers, diesel, big-rigs, or commercial trucks. They are an essential part of transporting a vast array of commercial, industrial, and consumer products around the country.
While trucks make up about 4% of all registered vehicles on the road, they make up at least 8% of fatal crashes. In 2007, one out of nine traffic fatalities resulted from a crash with a large truck.
When a fully loaded tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds collides with an automobile, weighing about 3,000 pounds, almost all of the fatalities will occur to the passenger vehicle occupants. If an automobile passenger survives a collision with a large truck it is very likely he will require medical care for the rest of his life.
A large truck rollover is also dangerous for the big-rig driver as the cab is not very well supported.
263 people lost their lives in 2008 in Florida collisions with a large truck, a number that has been in decline since 2004. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2007, 413,000 large trucks were involved in traffic accidents in the U.S. that resulted in 4,808 fatalities.
One of the most common causes of large truck accidents is driver fatigue, which is completely preventable and thought to contribute to 30 to 40 percent of all diesel truck accidents.
The National Transportation Safety Board also finds that overloaded trucks, poor driver training, and equipment failure onboard the big-rig all contribute to accidents.
Accidents involving big-rigs are not always the truck driver’s fault. Frequently passenger vehicles fail to give a driver enough room to stop when they cut him off.
Car drivers don’t often realize that a big-rig driver cannot see him in a blind spot. If you can’t see the truck driver in his mirror, he cannot see you either.
Litigation involving trucks is somewhat complicated in that there are specific laws, both federal and state, that oversee tractor – trailers and the trucking industry as a whole. The laws are intended to keep everyone safe on the roads that they must share.
In Florida, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Motor Carrier Compliance enforces the rules, while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act requires drivers and trucking companies to keep the roads safe.
Following an accident there is important physical evidence that must be preserved. Trucking companies must comply with weight, load and safety requirements and physical evidence can prove if they followed the rules. Drivers must comply with hours-of-service behind the wheel and are required to keep logs, though sometimes in an investigation we find there are actually two sets of logs – one to be shown to inspectors and the real log.
In an accident with a large truck, an accident reconstructionist must be able to piece together the specifics of the accident to determine the at-fault driver or whether a failure of equipment due to poor vehicle maintenance caused the accident.
Accident investigators will measure and photograph the crash site to determine the speed each vehicle was traveling before the crash. It is important to have access to the log books and the driver’s records, any data from recent safety inspections as well as data from the “black box” recorder. That will be the proof necessary to determine if the driver was following the complex set of state and federal laws regarding rest time and vehicle maintenance.
In addition, it will be important to determine the medical condition of the driver at the time of the accident. Besides finding out if he received adequate rest the night before the accident, investigators will want to know if he suffers from sleep apnea, diabetes, is taking prescription medication, what kinds and how many, or if he was impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
Because there are so many federal rules that must be followed, and because the lawyers for the insurance companies representing the trucking companies are aggressively trying to save money, it is absolutely necessary that you have someone on your side to handle your claim and protect your rights.
Contact a Jacksonville Truck Accident Lawyer for Guidance
Do not speak to any adjuster from the insurance company and do not sign any papers. You may be signing away your right to pursue an action in court. Contact a truck accident lawyer at Farah & Farah to discuss your claim today.