TRUCK ACCIDENTS

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Truck accidents, involving large commercial trucks colliding with smaller vehicles, are often deadly. Large tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, dump trucks, and construction trucks are all considered “trucks.” It can often be scary driving next to one of these trucks. Often these trucks seem to be in a big hurry. Unfortunately, the speed and size of these big trucks produces deadly results. Large commercial truck travel has more than doubled over the last fifteen years, resulting in serious safety consequences. Many people have been injured or lost their life in truck crashes in the United States.

There are complex laws governing trucks involved in interstate commerce. It is vitally important to understand the regulations of the commercial trucking industry when handling a truck accident case. Many cases turn on the truck company’s compliance with federal safety and maintenance regulations, the truck company’s failure to provide training and/or supervision of its drivers, and even possible manufacturing or design defects involving the actual truck. Experienced counsel must be retained to investigate the potential liability of the driver and the trucking company, as well as the potential liability of the manufacturer of the truck, and the potential liability of the maintenance and inspection companies.

Anderson | Hinkins understands that your immediate goals after a truck accident are to regain your health, see that your medical bills are taken care of, and ensure that you do not suffer financially from lost wages. While we cannot pay for your medical expenses, we can assist you through the process. You may face increasing medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life. We will discuss your situation and go over the options available to you. We will also work with insurance companies and other parties involved in your case to make sure all your needs are handled efficiently and effectively.

When a truck accident has caused a permanent disabling injury, our goal is to provide you with the funds necessary to make up for the inability to work, as well as funds necessary to pay for long term medical care needs. Members of your immediate family often suffer as well, both financially and emotionally. In the event of a catastrophic injury or death, the family members may feel as though the fabric of their lives has been suddenly torn apart.

At Anderson Hinkins LLC, we work to promptly investigate a crash, determine fault and seek to recover all legal damages. During the first week, important physical evidence can be lost and witnesses may become hard to find. You should know that insurance companies quickly seek to protect their interests by investigating the accident shortly after its occurrence. Therefore, it is generally wise for the injured victim and/or family members to consult an attorney as soon as possible.

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If you have been injured in a truck accident, please contact us online or by phone at 801.930.0290 for a free consultation.

What are the dangers associated with big trucks on the roadways? What are the main causes of truck accident in the United States? How do truck accidents differ from car accidents? Do state or federal regulations govern truck drivers? What rules and regulations do truck drivers have to follow to ensure safety for others on the road? How many truck accidents can be attributed to alcohol and/or drug use? How many hours a day are truckers allowed to drive? What should I do if I am in a collision with a commercial truck? Do I really need a lawyer? Who can be sued in a trucking accident case?

Q. What are the dangers associated with big trucks on the roadways?

A. There are many dangers and causes of truck accidents related to the size of these huge commercial vehicles. Here are a few: No-Zones. Large trucks have blind spots located around the front, back, and sides of the truck. When a car is in the No-Zone, the truck driver is usually unable to see the care. When the truck driver cannot see the car, a large truck could turn into a passing car and a serious accident could result.

Squeeze Play. When making a right turn, big rigs need to swing wide to the left in order to maneuver a right turn. When truck drivers negotiate wide right turns; they are often unable to see smaller vehicles directly behind them or at their side. If a car goes between the truck and a curb, the car can be caught in a squeeze, and a serious accident can occur.

Stopping Distance. Large trucks need a much longer stopping distance than other vehicles. If you are in a car in front of a truck and need to brake suddenly, you are at risk of being in a serious rear-end collision with the big truck.

Off-track. This term refers to when a tractor-trailer truck turns at a high speed and sways into an adjacent lane without warning. Due to truck’s no-zones, if a car, SUV, or van is traveling next to the truck, the truck’s 10,000 pounds of metal can enter the other lane with extreme force.

Q. What are the main causes of truck accidents in the U.S.?

A. Tractor trailers are large, heavy vehicles that travel at high speeds. A truck traveling at 70 miles per hour has almost twice as much energy as a truck traveling at 50 miles per hour. Some of the factors that can contribute to serious injuries and death in collisions between large trucks and passenger vehicles are as follows:

  • Aggressive drivers
  • Unrealistic schedules
  • Failure to inspect tires, brakes and lights
  • Tailgating
  • Long work-shifts
  • Driver fatigue
  • Cell phone use
  • Failure to install blind spot mirrors
  • Jackknifing
  • Speeding and ignoring reduced truck speed limit

Q. How do truck accidents differ from car accidents?

A. One of the most significant ways in which these two types of accidents differ is the extent of damages and injuries involved when a truck and a typical automobile collide. Typically a fully loaded, large commercial truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, compared to an average passenger automobile that weighs approximately 3,000 pounds. Due to this size disparity between large trucks and automobiles, and the basic laws of physics, any collision between a commercial truck and another vehicle is likely to result in serious, even fatal, injuries.

Q. Do state or federal regulations govern truck drivers?

A. There are many regulations, both state and federal, that trucking companies are required to follow. Some of those laws include the following:

  • Trucking companies are required to follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) regulations concerning equipment and hours of service.
  • Truck drivers are required to maintain a driver’s log.
  • Federal regulations require commercial trucks to carry certain levels of insurance coverage, depending on the nature of the materials hauled. These regulations protect victims of large truck crashes from truck owners who may not have the financial resources to pay damages out-of-pocket.
  • The Commercial Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program requires that individual states and other political jurisdictions unify to develop and implement programs that will ultimately improve motor carrier, CMV, and driver safety and establish a safer and more efficient transportation system.
  • Commercial driver’s license standards are federal regulations in place to reduce or prevent truck accidents and resulting injuries and/or deaths by requiring drivers of certain vehicles to obtain a single commercial motor vehicle driver’s license.
  • Both Utah state and/or federal law, depending on whether the truck was involved in intrastate or interstate transport may govern truck accidents.

Q. What rules and regulations do truck drivers have to follow to ensure safety for others on the road?

A. The Code of Federal Regulations details prohibited conduct of truck drivers. These include:

  • Reporting for duty with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 or greater,
  • Possessing alcohol unless it is part of a shipment, including medications like cough syrup or cold medicine that contain alcohol,
  • Consuming alcohol while performing safety-sensitive functions,
  • Consuming alcohol within 8 hours preceding an accident,
  • Reporting for duty while using any drug that affects the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, or
  • Refusing to submit to any DOT mandated alcohol or drug test.

Q. How many truck accidents can be attributed to alcohol and/or drug use?

A. A study by the Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety of interstate tractor-trailer drivers found that 15% of all drivers had marijuana, 12% had non-prescription stimulants, 5% had prescription stimulants, 2% had cocaine, and fewer than 1% had alcohol in their systems at the time of accident.

Q. How many hours a day are truckers allowed to drive?

A. Sleepy truckers are such a concern that in April of 2003, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted new hours of service regulations to curtail truckers’ problems with fatigue. While these laws have helped reduce the number of accidents, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board still cites driver fatigue as a probable factor in 20-40% of truck crashes.

Q. What should I do if I am in a collision with a commercial truck?

A. If you are involved in a collision of any kind, the first and most important thing to do is call 911 to request both medical and police assistance. Do not leave the scene. Unless you are in danger of being further injured, it is generally best if you do not move your vehicle. If there are any issues over the way the collision occurred, placement of the vehicles will often help the police and others in reconstructing the accident to determine exactly what happened. If you have a camera in your car, take pictures of the damage to the vehicles, and the position of the vehicles.

If you can, attempt to locate people who may have witnessed the collision. Get each person’s name, address, and telephone number. Additionally, exchange insurance information and driver’s license information with the other driver.

Most collisions involve some trauma to your body. If an ambulance is offered, it is always best to go to the emergency room to be examined to ensure there are not any hidden or internal injuries.

You should immediately consult with a truck accident lawyer. Truck companies have their own investigators and attorneys working hard to dismiss liability. Most trucking companies are highly skilled at truck accident investigation and claims. Anything you say or sign may be held against you down the road.

Q. Do I really need a lawyer?

A. Truck accidents can be the most complicated and aggressively defended cases because of the parties and damages involved. Therefore, having legal representation is extremely important to ensure the proper parties are involved and sufficient negligence is established. It is also important that you hire an attorney as soon as possible so that evidence is not lost or destroyed.

Q. Who can be sued in a trucking accident case?

A.The driver, owner of the tractor, owner of the trailer, the company identified on the trailer even if it is different than the owner and driver. In some circumstances the loading facility that placed the contents in the trailer can be liable, and potentially the owner of the contents of the trailer.