Trucking accidents have increased 20% over the past two decades, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Sharing the road with large commercial trucks can be intimidating. The accidents involving them typically cause much greater harm than ordinary car accidents due to their sheer size and weight.
While a passenger vehicle weighs approximately 4,000 pounds, a semi-truck can weigh anywhere up to 80,000 pounds. If you are the victim of a trucking accident, questions as to who was at fault and the factors that caused the accident can be complex. Federal laws and regulations govern the trucking industry and set standards that trucking companies, owners and drivers must abide by. These same laws and regulations determine who is at fault for a trucking accident. There a number of parties who can be held liable for a victim’s injuries following a trucking accident. These include, but are not limited to the following:
- The truck driver;
- The owner of the truck;
- The person or company who leased the truck or trailer;
- The loader of the truck’s cargo (if it is found that the truck was improperly loaded);
- The manufacture of the truck’s tires, or other parts, which may have attributed to the accident.
It also helps to know what factors cause most trucking accidents.
Fault of the Driver
Driver fatigue is a serious problem in the trucking industry. Many truck drivers feel compelled to drive for longer hours than they would normally to meet a deadline or earn extra income. These long hours behind the wheel and lack of sleep can result in driver error and mistakes that can be deadly. Distracted driving, inattention and failure to follow the rules of the road by the truck driver can also result in a serious trucking accident. Speeding is particularly dangerous for commercial trucks. Depending on the road conditions and reaction time, it takes an 18-wheeler 40 percent longer to come to a complete stop than an average car. Accidents are also caused when the truck driver gets behind the wheel after drinking or while under the influence of drugs, even prescription drugs. Unfamiliarity with the road and traffic patterns or new routes that contain a lot of curves or mountainous conditions can also catch truck drivers by surprise.
Improper Maintenance of the Truck
Another leading cause of trucking accidents is the failure to properly maintain the commercial truck. These trucks are on the road for many hours, driving thousands of miles a week. This mileage can cause a lot of wear and tear. As a result, it is the duty of the truck owner to ensure that the vehicles are properly maintained, including making sure that brake pads are replaced, engines are checked regularly and any broken parts, such as windshields, are promptly fixed. The driver is responsible for checking the conditions of the truck at the beginning of every shift before getting on the road and submitting a vehicle maintenance report.
Equipment Failure or Malfunction
Equipment malfunction is another major cause of trucking accidents. The manufacturers for various parts of the equipment are responsible for ensuring that the parts are not defective or dangerous. If an accident occurs involving a truck, and it is discovered that the cause of the accident was a defective part, the part’s manufacturer, truck manufacturer or other party can be held liable if an accident occurs. The injured party would be able to seek damages from the company that made the defective part.
As trucking accident attorneys, the most common equipment failures we see include:
- Brake failure
- Tire blowouts
- Improper loading
- Improper attachment of the trailer
- Defective steering
- Transmission failure
Poor Driving Conditions
Accidents also occur when driving conditions are less than favorable. Poor weather can really make driving a truck on the road unsafe, especially if the driver is not properly trained to drive in extreme weather conditions. These conditions include rain, ice, or snow, which can make it easy for a truck to jackknife, hydroplane or skid, and it can also be difficult for the truck driver to slow down or stop when needed.
Cargo Not Properly Loaded
An additional hazard which can make it more likely that a truck will cause an accident is the improper loading of cargo. Cargo loading is governed by industry-specific rules when it comes to how the truck bed is loaded. Restrictions exist for weight, length, width, height or size of cargo. In addition, different methods exist for securing cargo, depending on what type of cargo is involved.
FREE CONSULTATION WITH AN EXPERIENCED TRUCKING ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
The trucking company and the insurance company have their own legal departments who handle these types of claims and cases on a regular basis. One of the biggest mistakes someone involved in an auto accident can make is to walk into a settlement negotiation alone without any understanding of what rights he or she has. Most personal injury attorneys will meet with the person for a free consultation to discuss the facts of the case. It never hurts to at least bring the facts to an experienced attorney who can advise you on what to do before starting negotiations. In our offices in Orlando and Kissimmee, we Uber clients to our office if they are unable to come in their own vehicle.
The Benenati Law Firm has recovered millions of dollars for its injury clients and accident victims. In Orlando and throughout Central Florida victims injured in accidents or through negligence need only hit the 7s to reach the personal injury offices of the Benenati Law Firm. We understand the stresses related to the aftermath of these accidents and we can help take some of the pressure off you and your family, so you can concentrate on recovery. Our oath to you is handling your case from start to finish effectively, competently, and aggressively. Allow us the opportunity to give you the personal attention you deserve in your case. You pay us nothing unless we win your case. Please do not hesitate to call our office today at 407-777-7777 for a free legal consultation. Abogado Hispano con experiencia en juicios sirviendo las necesidades legales de la comunidad de la Florida.