You would be hard pressed to identify anything more dangerous on America’s roads than the tractor trailers that help fuel the country’s economy. Speeding down the highway at an average of 70,000 pounds, semi-trucks have a frightening potential to do devastating damage to anything that gets in its way. It is little wonder these large vehicles were involved in more than 4,000 fatal crashes in 2015, according to the most recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. If you have been injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer truck, call Burg Simpson’s semi truck accident lawyers at 303-792-5595 right now.
Make no mistake, semi-truck drivers undergo hours of training and safety preparation. However, they are also forced to operate under grueling schedules to meet tight deadlines. Worse still, over the last few years, the trucking lobby has convinced Congress to ease, alter, or outright reject several safety regulations. These interest groups have succeeded in pushing for heavier truck loads, longer beds, and shorter rest periods for drivers. Additionally, trucking companies – in a bid for cutting their payrolls – have been putting younger, less experienced drivers behind the wheel. The latest regulatory rollback in favor of the trucking industry was the withdrawal of rule that would have forced carriers to test drivers for sleep apnea.
When a big rig truck driver causes a motor vehicle accident, they often leave serious property damage, critical injuries, and fatalities in their wake. In this type of situation, do not be left without the best semi truck accident attorneys from Burg Simpson, submit our Free Case Evaluation form before it is too late.
To have the best defense in your accident case you need to know who was at fault for the crash and what the issues were that lead to the accident. There are many reasons – and factors – that can lead to these tragic accidents, according to an extensive Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study.
- Poor decision making, such as speeding and aggressive driving, lead to 42 percent of collisions.
- Recognition, or a lack thereof in the form of inattention, caused 35 percent of accidents.
- Driver performance was behind 7 percent of crashes.
- Vehicle issues, or faulty equipment, led to 8 percent of accidents.
- Environment, whether it’s a poor roadway or inclement weather triggered 4 percent of accidents.
The FMCSA study also highlighted the top 10 specific, “causative” factors that led to tractor-trailer truck collisions:
- Making illegal maneuver.
- Inadequate surveillance.
- Traveling too fast for conditions.
- Following too close.
- Misjudgment of gap or other’s speed.
- Stop required before crash.
- External distraction.
- Brake problems.
Other factors that can contribute to a tractor-trailer truck accident include:
- Impaired driving: A driver’s ability to operate his vehicle is impaired when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Driver fatigue: Because of demanding schedules, drivers are often forced to work excessive hours, on inadequate rest, while they typically fail to observe rest stops – all of which can contribute to fatigue, which can be as deadly as an intoxicated driver.
- Driver error: Semi-truck drivers are as human as the rest of us, and they can make critical mistakes in hazardous situations, which can lead to an accident.
- Improper maintenance: All too often, vehicles aren’t maintained properly, and can result in issues that make their operation even more dangerous.
- Unbalanced truck loads: When carriers are in a hurry to make a deadline, trucks can be improperly loaded, and can lead to dangerous conditions for even the safest of drivers.
- Road hazards: Hazardous road conditions, whether it is a result of improper maintenance or objects in the road, can challenge 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 anyone.
- Jackknifing: This type of accident occurs when the truck and its trailer fall out of line, twisting to form an L or V shape. These are typically a result 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 when they train their drivers, which can lead to an inexperienced driver without the tools 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.
- Adherence to heavy truck preventative maintenance schedules.
- Specific requirements for tracking adherence these regulations.
All truck drivers are required to stop at designated weigh stations to check that their load is not overweight, falsely reported, or contains illegal cargo. If a truck is found to be above its weight limit at one of these stations, the driver can be given a ticket but all too often they’re allowed right back on the road with an unsafe amount of weight in tow, increasing the chances of causing a devastating accident. Occasionally offenders might be detained until a specific permit is issued or the weight is reduced. If this was the cause of your accident, contact a Denver semi-truck accident lawyer today.
There are also strict guidelines in place that limit the time a driver can be on the road to no more than 10 consecutive hours, no more than 11 hours 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 they stay in compliance, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates these hours of service.
Impaired driving can mean a lot more than just driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Experts estimate that driver exhaustion is a factor in up to 40 percent of trucking accidents. A truck driver can be impaired by influences other than drugs or alcohol, such as lack of sleep or improper use of medications.
Many truckers will even compound fatigue with drug use. Coffee does not go very far in combating real sleep deprivation. Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamines, often help drivers stay awake so they can make their schedule. However, they can also lead to confusion, paranoia, and impaired judgment, all of which can lead to truck drivers to make mistakes behind the wheel.
Using drugs and alcohol before getting behind the wheel of any vehicle is extremely dangerous. When you add in all the possible factors that can cause truck driving accidents, you increase that threat exponentially. While impaired, a driver’s reaction time and judgment is reduced, and this is imperative when 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. Driver’s that have a Commercial Driver’s License are held to a higher 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.
Large trucks are inherently harder to operate and dangerous compared to every other vehicle on the road. Since they are typically bigger, longer, and heavier, they can be more difficult for drivers to maneuver than standard passenger cars. This causes drivers to lose control more easily, which can lead to a tragedy if they are involved in an accident.
Sometimes trucks even have defective parts or are not properly maintained per their fleet vehicle maintenance schedule, ultimately increasing their odds of an accident. In addition, because of their momentum from the weight, it might be nearly impossible to recover from a problem situation particularly in inclement weather.
- Trucks can lose control easily when going downhill.
- Truck tires can burst when there is 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 often need a much longer stopping distance than regular automobiles.
Extra weight might cause a bridge or overpass to collapse, putting other lives in serious danger. Large amounts of weight increases momentum, which can put added stress on the brakes, causing them to fail.
Truck engines have a device built into them called an Electronic Control Module. These so-called “black boxes”, capture information regarding the operation of the truck during driving. The truck ECM can be crucial evidence to prove any negligence or wrongdoing of the driver involved during a civil lawsuit. In some cases, it could also prove negligence on the trucking company’s part, increasing your odds during litigation. Contact a Denver personal injury attorney at Burg Simpson now to discuss the details of your case by filling out our Free Case Evaluation form.
What is a “Common Carrier?”
A common carrier is referred to as 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 laws by state and federal governments. Whether these vehicles are compliant with these laws might 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 trucking companies that operate them must abide by stricter rules and regulations than private vehicles. They must pay attention to how many hours the driver is allowed to operate the vehicle during any one stretch of time, the type of load it is allowed to carry, how the truck is maintained, when it is serviced, and much more. If you would like to know more about the rules and regulations that must be followed by these companies and their truck drivers, reach out to a Burg Simpson trial lawyer 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 to be at fault for a trucking accident, including the trucking company. The truck manufacturer that might have supplied faulty assembled parts could even be held to product liability rules for damages. The trucking company 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, can also be found at fault.
Who is allowed to drive big trucks?
Truck drivers must have a special Commercial driver’s license, which is different than a regular driver’s license. Special training and tests are required to obtain a CDL and keep it. Furthermore, there are different classes of CDLs, which dictate the types and weights of trucks that drivers are permitted to operate. Extra training and tests apply to drivers who haul certain types of cargo, like hazardous materials, or who drive certain types of truck equipment like triple trailers. Accidents and violations of traffic or trucking laws can cause a driver to lose his or her CDL.
What is an “under-ride” accident?
Because tractor-trailer vehicles are so much larger and sit higher than passenger cars, sometimes a car's hood and engine compartment, or even its trunk, can slide underneath the trailer truck causing impact to occur directly to the occupant compartment of the car. These accidents are particularly dangerous and can cause serious injury, decapitation, and even death. An under-ride accident can occur due to an impact between a car and the front, rear end, or side of a large trailer truck.
If you have been involved in a tractor trailer accident, it is important that you find an expert truck injury lawyer you can trust before it is too late and start to build your trial case immediately. Burg Simpson’s Denver personal injury attorneys have the experience and knowledge of state and federal regulations these truckers must abide by. Many of our specialized semi truck accident lawyers even have a CDL license of their own from past experiences. Let a personal injury attorney help gather the evidence needed to build your case by filling out the Free Case Evaluation form today! You can also call us right now at 303-792-5595.
Along with being the Denver personal injury lawyer department head, Stephen Burg is a nationally recognized member of several associations including the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers:
Stephen Burg has also given presentations on trucking cases and published several articles for Personal Injury topics online. Here are a few examples of cases that Stephen Burg has fought and won for his clients:
- Represented a family who was hit by a semi-truck: $2.1 million won
- Represented client hit by a CDL vehicle suffering right leg injury: $183,000 won
- Represented clients hit by a gas truck causing orthopedic injuries: $1.37 million won
- Represented a 79-year-old client hit by a truck, causing brain injury: $1.5 million won
*These are only a few examples of clients represented in the area of Semi Truck Accident Lawyers. Please contact a Burg Simpson Denver Personal Injury Lawyer for more information.*