Semi-Truck Accident Lawyers in Cincinnati
Although shipping goods is a crucial part of the economy, the resulting surge of semi-trucks on the road increases dangers for drivers. At an average of 70,000 pounds, semi-trucks have the potential to devastate anything in their path while they are speeding along the highway. In 2017, large trucks were involved in 4,237 fatal crashes and 344,000 incidents that caused severe injuries, according to the most recent data available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). With the sheer size of semi-trucks compared to passenger vehicles, 82 percent of the time, the fatalities were not occupants of the large trucks. If you have been injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer truck, call Burg Simpson’s semi-truck accident lawyers in Cincinnati at (513) 852-5600.
Truck drivers undergo safety training and are subject to regulations on how many hours they can drive per day, but it still isn’t enough. Many are forced to stick to grueling schedules to meet tight deadlines. In addition, Congress has eased some safety regulations in the past few years due to pressure from the trucking lobby. These interest groups have pushed for heavier truck loads, longer beds, and shorter rest periods for truck drivers, all of which contribute to less safe conditions on roadways for all motorists. Another recent regulatory rollback in favor of the trucking industry was the withdrawal of a rule that would have required carriers to test drivers for sleep apnea.
When a semi-truck driver causes a motor vehicle accident, they often leave serious property damage, catastrophic injuries, and fatalities in their wake. In this type of situation, you need experienced legal representation. Do not wait to contact the semi-truck accident lawyers at Burg Simpson with our Free Case Evaluation form.
What Causes Serious Truck Accidents?
To have the best chance at securing compensation in your case, you need to know who was at fault for the collision and what factors contributed to the accident. A multitude of reasons may play a role in tragic accidents, according to an extensive FMCSA study.
- Poor decision-making, such as speeding and aggressive driving, contributed to 42 percent of collisions.
- Recognition, or lack thereof, in the form of inattention, caused 35 percent of incidents.
- Driver performance
- Vehicle issues or faulty equipment
- Environmental conditions, such as poor roadway or inclement weather
The FMCSA study also found the top 10 “causative” factors that led to tractor-trailer truck incidents:
- Overweight driver
- Making illegal maneuver
- Inadequate surveillance
- Traveling too fast for conditions
- Following too closely
- Misjudgment of gap or another driver’s speed
- Stop required before crash
- External distraction
- Brake problems
Other reasons that may have an impact in a truck accident include:
- Impaired driving: Any driver’s ability to operate their vehicle is impaired when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but this is even more of a risk considering the size of semi-trucks.
- Driver fatigue: Because of demanding schedules, drivers are often forced to work excessive hours on insufficient rest. Fatigue can be as deadly as an intoxicated driver.
- Driver error: Truck drivers are human, and this can lead to critical mistakes in hazardous situations, which can have dire consequences.
- Improper maintenance: Many times, vehicles aren’t maintained properly, which can result in issues that make tractor-trailer operation even more dangerous.
- Unbalanced truck loads: When carriers are in a hurry to meet a deadline, trucks may be improperly loaded, and this can cause dangerous conditions for even the safest of drivers.
- Road hazards: Dangerous road conditions, whether it is the result of poorly maintained roadways or objects in the road, can inhibit a driver’s reaction time and lead to an accident.
- Inclement weather: Bad weather, such as rain or snow, can reduce visibility and make the road slick, creating a challenging environment for all drivers.
- Jackknifing: This type of accident occurs when the truck and its trailer fall out of line, twisting to form an L or a V shape. Jackknives typically happen because of driving too fast for the conditions, especially around a curve. Faulty equipment can also be a factor.
- Poor training and supervision: Not every carrier is as responsible as they are supposed to be in training their drivers, which can lead to an inexperienced driver without the skills to deal with hazardous conditions and/or situations.
Legally speaking, any vehicle classified as a “Common Carrier” must adhere to strict state and federal regulations while on the road, which include:
- The number of hours a truck driver can spend on the road in any given day or week
- The amount of rest a driver must have before each trip
- The type and size of the cargo that can be hauled
- Following heavy truck preventative maintenance schedules
- Specific requirements for tracking adherence to these regulations
All truck drivers are legally required to stop at designated weigh stations to check that their load is not overweight, falsely reported, and doesn’t contain illegal cargo. If a truck is discovered to be above the weight limit at one of these stations, the driver may be ticketed. However, they are frequently allowed right back onto the road with an unsafe amount of weight in tow, increasing the chances of causing a devastating accident. Occasionally, offenders may be detained until a specific permit is issued or the weight is reduced. If an overweight truck was the cause of your accident, contact a Cincinnati semi-truck lawyer today.
There are strict guidelines in place that limit the consecutive hours a driver can be on the road. Drivers are prohibited from driving more than 10 consecutive hours, no more than 11 hours total in one day, and they may not drive more than 60 hours during one week, or more than 70 hours during an eight-day period. To make sure truck drivers stay in compliance, the FMCSA regulates these hours of service.
Impaired Truck Driving Risks
Impairment extends beyond just driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Experts estimate driver exhaustion is a factor in as many as 40 percent of trucking accidents. A truck driver can be impaired by other influences besides drugs or alcohol, such as lack of sleep or improper use of medications.
Many truckers will further compound the symptoms of fatigue with drug use. Coffee does not go very far in fighting true sleep deprivation. Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamines, are often used by drivers to stay awake so they can make their schedule. However, these substances can lead to confusion, paranoia, and impaired judgment, all of which can cause truck drivers to make mistakes behind the wheel when the stakes are high.
Using drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel of any vehicle is extremely dangerous. When you consider all the possible factors that can cause semi-truck accidents, you increase the risk exponentially. While driving impaired, a trucker’s reaction time and judgment suffers, and is imperative to be fully alert and ready to react while driving a commercial vehicle as large as a semi-truck. The federal government has laws in place to regulate truckers taking drugs and alcohol, including regulating legal limits on alcohol intake. People who hold a Commercial Driver’s License are held to a higher safety standard on the road, so if you have suffered a personal injury due to an impaired truck driver, contact Burg Simpson before it is too late.
The Dangers of Overloaded Semi-Trailers
Large trucks are inherently harder to operate and more dangerous than every other vehicle on the road. Since they are bigger, longer, and heavier, they are much more difficult to maneuver than standard passenger automobiles. This makes it easier for truckers to lose control, which can lead to a tragedy if they are involved in a crash.
Sometimes semi-trucks even have defective parts or are not maintained properly per their fleet vehicle maintenance schedule, ultimately increasing their odds of an incident. Because of their momentum from the weight, it may be nearly impossible to recover from a problem situation before it spirals, especially in inclement weather.
Some other factors include:
- Trucks can easily lose control when traveling downhill
- Truck tires are more likely to burst when carrying too much weight
- Semi-trucks often shift the cargo weight, which can cause steering difficulties and even lead to a rollover
- A trailer tractor’s center of gravity could rise, making rolling more probable
- Trucks frequently need a much greater stopping distance than regular automobiles
Extra weight could even cause an improperly maintained bridge or overpass to collapse, posing a serious threat to other lives. Heavy weight increases momentum, which can put added stress of the brakes, causing them to fail.
Truck engines have a built-in device called an Electronic Control Module. These so-called “black boxes” capture information regarding the operation of the truck while in motion. The truck ECM can provide crucial evidence to prove any negligence or wrongdoing of the driver during a civil lawsuit. In some cases, it may also prove negligence on the part of the trucking company, increasing the chances of your case being resolved in your favor during litigation. Contact a Cincinnati personal injury attorney at Burg Simpson now to discuss the details of your case by filling out our Free Case Evaluation form.
Common Questions about Ohio and Kentucky Truck Accident Cases
What is a “common carrier?”
A common carrier refers to any company that fleets oversized vehicles to transport goods. These fleets can be composed of buses, trains, airplanes, or semi tractor-trailers. These large vehicles are subject to strict state and federal laws. Compliance or lack thereof with these rules may be an important factor in your case if you are injured in an accident involving a common carrier vehicle.
What are some legal issues with trucking accidents?
Trailer trucks and the carrier companies that operate them must abide by stricter rules and regulations than private vehicles. Carriers must pay attention to how many hours the driver is operating the vehicle during any stretch of time, the type of load the truck can carry, how the truck is maintained, when it is serviced, and much more. If you would like to know more about the laws that must be followed by these companies and their drivers, reach out to Burg Simpson today to see what your case may be worth.
Who is responsible when a big rig truck driver is found to be at fault?
More than one party can be found at fault for a trucking accident, including the trucking company. The truck manufacturer can even be held responsible for product liability rules for damages if they supplied faulty assembled parts. The carrier has a responsibility to monitor their drivers and maintain the equipment under a timed fleet schedule. Drivers who fail to adhere to their specific licensing responsibilities or trucking laws, who were driving carelessly, or did not follow regulations for truck stop checks may also be found at fault.
Who is allowed to drive large trucks?
Truckers must have a special commercial driver’s license, which is different than a standard driving license. Special training and tests are required to obtain a CDL and keep it over time. There are also different classes of CDLs, which dictate the types and weights of trucks that drivers are permitted to operate. Drivers who haul certain types of cargo, such as hazardous materials, or who drive certain types of specialized trucking equipment like triple trailers are subject to extra training and tests. Truckers found to be in violation of traffic or trucking laws can lose their CDLs. Accidents also may cause drivers to be stripped of their CDLs.
What is an “under-ride” accident?
Because tractor-trailer trucks are so much larger and sit higher off the ground than many passenger vehicles, sometimes a car’s hood and engine compartment, or even its trunk, can slide underneath the trailer, causing impact to occur directly to the occupant compartment of the car. Under-ride accidents are one of the most dangerous types of semi-truck accident, and can cause serious injury, decapitation, and death. This type of incident can happen due to an impact between a car and the front, rear end, or side of a large trailer truck.
Contact an Experienced Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer in Cincinnati
If you have been involved in a tractor trailer accident, it is important that you find a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with this type of case. Don’t wait until it’s too late; start building your trial case immediately. Burg Simpson’s Cincinnati personal injury attorneys have the experience and knowledge of the state and federal regulations truckers must abide by. Let a semi-truck accident attorney help gather the evidence needed to build your case by filling out the Free Case Evaluation form today, or call us at (513) 852-5600.