Due to the sheer size and weight of tractor-trailer trucks, they are prone to unique types of tragedies on our nation’s roadways. Unfortunately, if you are involved an accident with a truck and you are in a passenger vehicle, your chances of suffering serious personal injury (or death) are very high. Because these trucks often weigh over 80,000 pounds, they tend to inflict far more serious damage than automobiles involved in a collision.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents are:
Because of their classification as “common carriers,” tractor-trailers (18 wheelers) are subject to very strict state and federal regulations including:
Weigh stations are set up all along the highways in the United States and serve as checkpoints where trucks are supposed to stop, get weighed, and get inspected. Weigh stations will check for truck and load weight, illegal cargo, falsely reported cargo, and compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) laws. If an overweight truck is detected at a weigh station, the driver may only be given a ticket. This allows a dangerous truck with an unsafe weight right back on our roadways. Other violators may be detained until an overweight permit is issued or the weight can be reduced somehow.
There are a variety of ways that overloaded trucks are dangerous and cause accidents:
A common carrier is a special class of vehicle, such as a bus, train, airplane, or tractor trailer truck that is subject to strict regulations by the state or federal government. Compliance or noncompliance with any applicable regulations may be an important aspect of your case if you were injured in an accident with a large truck (also known as a big rig, 18-wheeler, semi, semi trailer, etc.).
As common carriers, tractor-trailer trucks as well as the trucking companies that own them are subject to more stringent rules and regulations than private vehicles, including strict guidelines for how many hours a truck driver can be on the road, the type and volume of load, extensive rules regarding maintenance of the vehicle, and other factors.
If you have been in a trucking accident, it is important that you find an lawyer with experience and knowledge of the State and federal regulations applicable to truckers and trucking companies. You will need an lawyer who has experience handing truck accident lawsuits to properly represent your interests.
Large trucks are inherently more dangerous than other vehicles on the road. They are larger, heavier, and are more difficult to brake and maneuver than a standard passenger car, and as such they are more likely to lose control and more likely to cause serious damage in an accident. Trucks also can have defective parts or be improperly maintained. In addition, because of their larger weight and momentum it can be virtually impossible to recover from a problem situation – particularly in wet or icy weather.
In cases in which more than one party shares the blame for the accident, courts will frequently assign a percentage of the responsibility to each party, and take that into account when establishing compensation. Depending on the law of the State where the accident occurred, you may still be able to recover damages for your injuries in proportion to the responsibility of the other party.
Multiple parties may be responsible in trucking accident, including:
Trucking companies have a responsibility to monitor their drivers and maintain equipment. Defective trucks can be the responsibility of truck manufacturers. Drivers who do not adhere to trucking laws, or who drive carelessly can also be at fault.
Hours of service (HOS) regulations state that drivers may be on the road for no more than 10 consecutive hours and no more than 11 hours in one day. They must take at least 10 hours off between daily driving sessions. They may not drive more than 60 hours during one week, or more than 70 hours during an eight day period. They must take at least 34 consecutive hours off each week.
No. Truck drivers must have a special license called a commercial drivers license(CDL). Special training and tests are required to obtain a CDL. Beyond that, there are different classes of CDLs which dictate the types and weights of trucks which drivers may operate. Extra training and tests apply to drivers who haul certain types of cargo, such as hazardous materials, or drive certain types of trucks, such as triple trailers. Accidents, traffic violations, and violations of trucking laws can cause a driver to lose his or her CDL.
Because of the height difference between tractor trailer trucks and passenger cars, the hood and engine compartment or trunk can slide underneath the truck causing all of the impact to occur between the bed of the truck and the occupant compartment of the car, resulting in serious injuries, decapitation, and death. An underride accident can occur due to impact between a car and the front, rear, or side of a large truck.