Accidents with commercial trucks involve a very different set of issues than normal automobile accidents. The truck accident personal injury attorneys of Dolman Law Group, understand the specific nuances involved in semi truck and tractor-trailer accidents. At Dolman Law Group, we have the resources necessary to pursue your case. Truck accident cases can be costly to pursue and to properly investigate; having the necessary resources to handle these tasks is essential—we do!
Truck Accident Liability
A commercial vehicle accident is a unique situation. Not only is the vehicle much larger than other vehicles, often resulting in catastrophic injuries, but the number of parties potentially liable for the accident is significant as well. Let’s take a closer look at the potential defendants in a truck accident injury case.
Potential Defendants in a Truck Accident Case
Since big rig accidents often cause very serious injuries–often significantly more serious than typical car accidents–it is important to identify every party who was potentially responsible in order to get the injured victim the compensation they will need to cover their current and future damages.
The list of parties potentially responsible for a serious commercial truck accident extends far beyond the driver. Liability for a commercial truck accident could include the driver’s employer, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, third-party contractors, and the insurance companies who hold the policies for each of the aforementioned.
Truckers often work within many different business relationships. For example, they may work directly for the company they are delivering for; or they may be an independent contractor, simply hauling the goods for the company who owns the cargo. If the driver works directly for the trucking or shipping company, then that company may be liable for any negligence that led to the truck accident. In order to prove that this is the case, the injury victim’s attorney would need to prove that the accident occurred while the driver was driving directly for that company.
When a truck driver works independently–meaning they own their own truck and simply accept short-term contracts to haul a set amount of cargo from one destination to the other–the victim’s attorney would need to investigate how much oversight the contracting company exercised over the driver, and thus how much responsibility they have for the accident and injuries.
Determining which parties have some blame in the situation is important, because as we mentioned, each of these entities likely will carry separate insurance policies that could potentially all pay out separate amounts. This helps ensure a semi-truck accident victim gets as much money as possible to rebuild their shattered life.
Semi Driver Fatigue Contributes to Accidents
The most common act of negligence that a driver can commit is driving while they are tired. Driver fatigue sadly results in thousands of unfortunate and senseless accidents on American roads each year. In the context of truck drivers, the potential for catastrophe is all too real when fatigue becomes an issue. Federal trucking laws, known as Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, govern:
- the amount of time a driver can be on the road for a single stretch;
- how much time must be taken off between shifts; and
- how many hours they can log during a specific week.
It’s not at all uncommon for drivers to falsify their driving logs in order to be able to drive for more time. In fact, many trucking companies imply or expressly request their drivers to falsify records. Sadly, many trucking outfits place unrealistic scheduling demands on their drivers and sleep deprivation is often a common result.
Many factors result in truck driver fatigue:
- Long stretches of night driving
- Irregular schedules with little routine
- Unhealthy eating on the go
- Loading and unloading cargo in between trips
The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that fatigue plays a role in excess of 30% of trucking accidents.
For more information on how Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA handles truck driver fatigue, visit our practice page at https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/truck-accident-attorneys//truck-driver-fatigue/
Exposure of the broker or carrier
A broker is an entity that arranges for the transportation and/or movement of cargo by a motor carrier such as a semi-truck. The broker simply brings together the truckers and the company that is attempting to ship goods. Brokers utilize computer tracking software and data to monitor the movement of goods and the trucks they have brought in to handle the task.
In analyzing the liability of a broker, Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA looks at:
- Did they do their duty?
i.e. whether the broker has acted in accordance with their duty to inspect the motor carrier/truck, inspected the safety history of the truck and drivers of whom they have contracted with.
- Where they in control?
i.e. how much control the broker exercised over the truck and the driver. This can be investigated by inspecting the dispatch records, and whether the broker monitored and reviewed trip records or notes. Did the broker approve the receipts and bill of lading changes?
Negligent Maintenance and Hiring Claims
Trucking cases are generally very complex based on a bevy of state and federal laws that sometimes conflict with one another. We often retain experts to determine whether the trucking company utilized faulty equipment or were negligent in maintaining the truck itself.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA examines the following:
- Were the tires defective, retread, or unevenly worn?
- Were the brakes, axles, hitches and a variety of other parts working and checked routinely?
- Were the maintenance logs complete, updated, and in accordance with both state and federal statute?
In regards to negligent hiring and retention claims, we will examine the employment history of the driver and determine whether such individual was properly trained and experienced in operating a semi-truck or commercial vehicle. There are federal and state provisions concerning the due diligence that must be applied by the trucking company in examining the driver’s safety history and criminal record. Trucking outfits can face massive liability for failing to adhere to such safety provisions.
Reported Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Accidents Involving Injuries in Florida
Damages from a Truck Accident
Just like after a car accident or any other person injury, a person injured during a truck accident is entitled to seek recovery for their damages so that their life can be restored as close to possible to its original state before the accident.
Truck accident claims can pursue compensation for the following damages:
- Medical bills
- Surgery and other medical treatment costs
- Rehabilitation fees and procedures
- Nursing home care costs
- Lost income during incident
- Loss of earning capacity in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional suffering
- Disfigurement and permanent scaring
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In certain cases, the injured victim’s family may seek compensation for loss of consortium, which means that their spouse or parent can no longer provide the same level of companionship, care, love, affection, or sex life that they could before the accident.
Punitive damages, in certain extreme situations, may also be available if the driver or company acted in a way that intended to cause harm (“bad faith”) or in a way that they should have known would have caused harm. Punitive damages are meant to punish a company financially, like a fine, to discourage them from acting in a similar way in the future. It should be noted though that punitive damages are often dramatically lowered by judges and rarely covered by insurance policies.
Truck Accident Settlement
Seeking the appropriate medical care after a commercial vehicle accident is vital to protecting your health, but can lead to a mountain of medical bills. In order to pay for these bills, accident victims often accept extremely low settlement offers from insurance companies trying to quickly close the case. It’s important to remember that the insurance companies are looking to settle your 18-wheeler accident for as little money as they possibly can, all for the sake of profit.
It’s important that you are aware of your rights if you are the victim of a collision involving a commercial vehicle. Whether you are the truck driver, or another motorist unfortunate enough to fall victim to a serious semi-truck crash, you have the right to recover for your injuries.
The trial attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, specialize in personal injury law and have years of experience with all types of automobile accident claims. Our reputation for aggressively representing our clients to the insurance carriers is evident in our everyday diligent work toward maximizing our clients’ settlement offers. Rest assured, at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, your case will be handled with the utmost importance. You will never be pressured to take an unreasonable settlement offer, as our lawyers are ready and willing to take the case as far as necessary when the insurance carrier fails to take the proper course of action and make a fair offer.
*The above information was written and reviewed by either Attorney Matthew Dolman or another injury lawyer at the Dolman Law Group which has a combined 90 plus years of experience practicing personal injury law. Matthew Dolman himself has been practicing personal injury law in Clearwater and St. Petersburg for the last fifteen (15) years. The information provided comes from extensive research and years of experience trying legal cases in courtrooms.
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