Compassionately Helping Victims Of Serious Truck Accidents
Nine interstate highways crisscross Indiana, carrying thousands of vehicles across the U.S. each year, an increasing number of which are commercial trucks. Given changing weather conditions and constant road construction, it is likely that many of these semi trucks will be involved in accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 146 people were killed and 1,271 were injured in truck accidents in Indiana in 2007.
Causes Of Semi-Truck Accidents
Due to the massive size and weight of commercial vehicles, anything with which these vehicles collide stands little chance of coming out of the incident unharmed. Semi-truck accidents are almost always devastating and often result in severe, life-threatening injuries and, in some cases, death. Although one of the most important aspects of filing a lawsuit after a semi-truck accident is determining fault, the cause of the incident will also need to be proven. Common factors that can contribute to a big rig accident include:
- Overloaded or improperly loaded trucks
- Lack of driver training or experience
- Dangerous weather conditions
- Poorly maintained truck
- Defective equipment
- Defective roadways
- Negligent drivers
- Driver fatigue
Of these, driver fatigue is believed to be the most common cause of driver negligence. Statistics show that those who fall asleep behind the wheel or drivers who travel longer than federal regulations mandate contribute to 40% of all semi-truck accidents. Although fatigue by itself can cause a collision, when it is combined with one or more other potential causes, devastating and deadly consequences can ensue.
Why You Need A Big Rig Accident Attorney
While many would assume that the semi-truck driver is automatically responsible for the accident, such is not always the case. There may be more than one party whom you may hold accountable for any injuries or damages that you incurred following the crash. One of the main reasons why semi-truck accident lawsuits can be complex is because they often involve multiple defendants. For this reason, it is important to seek legal counsel from an experienced truck accident lawyer at Jacobs Law LLC. We have the experience and the skills required to handle even the most difficult and complex semi-truck accident lawsuit. Our truck injury attorneys can review your case and help you to determine who should be responsible for your injuries or losses. Other liable parties may include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The owner of the cargo
- The company that leased the truck
- Other negligent drivers or motorcyclists
- The manufacturer of the truck’s equipment
- The mechanic responsible for maintaining the vehicle
- The government entity responsible for maintaining the road
If you have been involved in a semi-truck accident and an insurance company is involved, it is often recommended that you refrain from speaking to the provider. The insurance company has its own team of adjusters whose sole jobs are to offer you the least amount of compensation possible. If you accept this settlement without first consulting a truck accident attorney, the claim will be closed, and you will be unable to pursue a claim for compensation or additional damages if your condition worsens in the future.
Trucking Accidents – Who Is Responsible?
In a presentation entitled, “Why Trucks Collide with Cars,” the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) website reports that:
- 55% of all accidents involving semi rucks and tractor-trailers were primarily caused by either the truck driver or the truck itself.
- However, in collisions involving a large truck and a single car, 56% were primarily caused by the passenger vehicle.
These statistics suggest that, when the truck driver or truck defect is to blame, the accident is more likely to involve multiple vehicles. This makes sense given the large size and immense weight of these commercial vehicles. There is a lot that can go wrong when a truck weighing more than five tons is traveling at a high speed in the presence of other vehicles. The following are all common causes of truck-related accidents where the truck driver, trucking company, or the truck itself may be to blame:
- Inadequate training (all commercial truck drivers must be properly trained and licensed)
- Driver fatigue (falling asleep behind the wheel)
- Speeding (either traveling over the posted limit or driving too fast for the road conditions)
- Following too closely
- Sudden lane changes
- Loss of control due to driver error
- Tire blowouts, failing brakes, engine problems and other vehicle-related causes
- Shifting cargo
- Alcohol and drug use
- The FMCSA categorizes these and other factors into seven “critical reasons” that are the primary causes of truck-related accidents. The most common critical reason when the truck driver is at fault? Poor decision-making. The FMCSA reports that more than 40% of all accidents where a truck driver is at fault are due to speeding and aggressive driving.
Of course, the truck driver isn’t always to blame. Other drivers need to respect commercial vehicles’ rights on the roads and avoid putting themselves in dangerous positions. According to the FMCSA, inattention, speeding and aggressive driving account for more than half of all truck-related accidents where a car or motorcycle driver is the responsible party. By driving safely, you can avoid unnecessary collisions and ensure that you will be entitled to compensation if you are involved in a truck-related accident.
Hours Of Service Regulations
Because trucks can cause so much damage to smaller vehicles and their passengers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) heavily regulates truck drivers and their trucks. One of these well-known regulations is called the hours of service regulations. The hours of service regulations aim to ensure that truck drivers are well-rested since tired drivers are much more likely to cause an accident. According to these laws, truckers are only permitted to work up to 14 hours in a single day. In these 14 hours, only 11 of these hours can be spent actually driving as the remaining time must be used on meal or rest breaks. After the workday is over, these truckers must rest for at least 10 consecutive hours before beginning a new workday.
Additionally, truck drivers are also required to take days off work completely. How often these days off occur is based on the hours of the trucking company a driver works for. If a trucking company is open seven days a week a driver can work up to 70 hours in an eight-day period before taking at least 34 consecutive hours off. If a trucking company is open less than seven days a week, however, a driver can work up to 60 hours in a seven-day period before taking 34 hours off instead.
The Importance Of Having An Attorney
Due to the sheer size and weight of the majority of semi trucks, the accidents are even more dangerous, frequently resulting in serious personal injuries and wrongful deaths. Each year, there are thousands of people who suffer an injury due to a commercial vehicle accident and are not able to acquire the compensation they deserve. In most cases, large commercial trucking companies have a large team of powerful injury lawyers, investigators and insurance adjusters working to minimize the settlement that is offered. When you contact Jacobs Law LLC, our injury and truck accident attorneys will help to balance the scale and recover fair damages for your injury. If you would like to have the best chance of maximizing your recovery after being injured in a truck accident, it is important to contact a skilled lawyer right away. At Jacobs Law LLC, we can help you to hold the careless, reckless or negligent driver liable for your injuries or help you to determine if another party may be liable for the accident such as the trucking company, the manufacturer, the mechanic or the owner of the cargo.
Investigating The Causes Of Truck Accidents
One of the first and most important steps in helping a person get financial compensation after they’ve been injured in a truck accident is investigating the accident to establish who is responsible for the accident. Since interstate trucking is such a regulated industry, there are some aspects of truck accident cases that are unique and sometimes very complicated. It helps to work with big rig accident attorneys who have experience handling trucking accident cases. At Jacobs Law LLC, our accident and injury lawyers will work with investigators and experts in accident reconstruction to gain a better understanding of how your trucking accident occurred and who may have been at fault. An investigation is essential to proving that an accident was caused by negligence or reckless behavior.
Is It A Truck Problem Or A Truck Driver Problem?
Improper load balancing can cause a truck to roll over, blocking several lanes of traffic at once and causing a chain reaction of collisions. Inadequate truck or trailer maintenance (failing to check truck tires, brakes or lights) can cause an accident, particularly if a truck is over its weight limit, causing brake failure or tire failure. Defective, broken or missing tie downs (or other restraint devices) can allow loads on open trailer beds to fall off, striking other motorists.