Tractor-trailers are an integral part of the American business system, carrying billions of dollars’ worth of goods across the country every day. However, their large size makes commercial trucks inherently more dangerous on the road than other passenger vehicles. A fully-loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and stand 14 feet above the ground, dwarfing other vehicles. When these large vehicles cause accidents, or when other drivers crash into tractor-trailers, the damage can be devastating. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a truck accident, call the truck accident attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer today.
After a big rig accident, reliable legal representation is one of the best possible assets you can have on your side. The right 18-wheeler accident attorney will not only manage your legal issues and help you build a case, but they will also document all of your expenses and losses resulting from the accident to secure the greatest amount of compensation possible. Lawyers can also handle complex insurance issues and encourage more amicable communication with insurers. Ultimately, a good truck accident attorney offers a client peace of mind so he or she can focus on recovery.
Some individuals may believe their cases are so open-and-shut and that hiring a truck wreck lawyer would be an unnecessary expense. While some people in rare circumstances may successfully manage their own legal battles, this is not a recommended course of action for the vast majority of Americans. The average person does not have the experience or legal training to handle a major lawsuit and will more than likely overlook valuable avenues of compensation or miss crucial deadlines with court filings that could lead to a judge throwing out the lawsuit before it even reaches the trial phase.
Trucking accidents happen in many ways. One of the most common types of 18-wheeler accidents is a jackknife accident. A jackknife accident takes place when a trailer swings out to one side as the truck continues forward. This is incredibly dangerous and may crash into multiple vehicles in multiple lanes of traffic.
Another type of 18-wheeler accident is the underride. This occurs when a smaller vehicle strikes a tractor-trailer under the trailer portion of the vehicle, effectively wedging itself under the truck.
Big rigs sit higher off the ground than smaller passenger cars, and therefore have higher centers of gravity. This makes them more susceptible to rolling over and causing significant damage. An empty trailer is more vulnerable to rolling over. Sometimes even a strong wind is enough to topple an empty trailer. Rollovers are also common during sharp turns, as large semi-trucks do not have the maneuverability of smaller vehicles. Taking a turn too fast can cause the trailer to tip over and create an accident.
Trucking accidents occur for a number of reasons, including:
Trucking accidents are complex cases. There can be multiple defendants and insurance companies involved. The question of liability may also arise when a truck driver causes an accident. If the accident occurred within the scope of the driver’s work, the employer will likely bear liability for the damages. However, if the driver engaged in dangerous, illegal or intentionally reckless behaviors, liability may fall on the driver as well. In cases involving defective vehicles or parts, the responsible manufacturer may face a product liability lawsuit.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) collects and analyzes traffic data concerning large trucks. According to FMCSA data, there were 4,311 large trucks and buses involved in fatal crashes in 2015 alone. Fatal big rig accidents increased at a rate of 20% between 2009 and 2015. Out of about 415,000 calls to police for vehicle accidents involving large trucks in 2015, 3,598 were fatal and approximately 20% resulted in injuries. About 60% of all fatal truck accidents occurred on rural roads in 2015 and another 25% took place on urban interstate roads. The vast majority of fatal and nonfatal crashes involving large semi-trucks occurred on weekdays and 27% of fatal workplace crashes in 2015 involved large semi trucks.
The FMCSA also regulates the trucking industry in several ways, and their hours of service requirements are the most pertinent when it comes to trucking accidents caused by driver error. Driving a big rig is a demanding job that requires consistent focus, attention to detail, and the ability to meet strict deadlines. The FMCSA established their hours of service laws to ensure truck drivers have ample opportunity to rest between shifts and can operate their vehicles safely for every drive.
Prior to these regulations, many tractor-trailer drivers would resort to alcohol or other drugs to cope with the stress of the job or simply to stay awake long enough to complete a delivery. Some drivers would also push themselves beyond safe limits to pursue performance bonuses and the new FMCSA regulations aim to curtail these practices.
To learn more about the federal regulations in the Missouri trucking industry, speak to a truck collision lawyer at Goldblatt + Singer.
Companies like Fed-Ex and UPS operate as common carriers, organizations that provide transportation of cargo and/or passengers for a fee. When employees of these delivery companies cause accidents, the company will likely absorb liability for the resulting damages. Common carriers must meet a higher standard of care than other drivers due to the nature of their work, and a smaller margin of error therefore applies.
Depending on who is to blame for your big rig accident, your lawsuit could take several forms. If a driver or trucking company is to blame, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. If a defective product caused your accident, a product liability claim against the manufacturer is more appropriate. Succeeding in either type of case can be difficult.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was negligent which requires establishing four facts in court. First, the plaintiff has to show that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff at the time of the incident in question and failed to meet that duty. For example, a truck driver for UPS has a duty of care to follow the traffic laws and drive his or her vehicle safely. If a UPS driver runs a stop sign or red light and causes an accident, this would constitute a breach of duty. In another situation, an 18-wheeler driver who caused an accident due to poor training could lead to negligence on the trucking company’s part.
After proving the defendant’s breach of duty in a personal injury case, the plaintiff must then prove that actual harm occurred. If there is no damage, there is no claim. The plaintiff must be able to prove some type of loss resulting from the truck accident, such as injuries, property damage, lost income or other damages. Then, the plaintiff must prove that these losses occurred due to the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.
With a product liability lawsuit, the plaintiff does not necessarily need to prove the manufacturer was negligent. The plaintiff must simply provide evidence to show that the product in question was defective in some way and the defect directly caused the accident in question.
Many factors can seriously complicate a truck accident lawsuit, therefore, experienced and reliable legal representation is a necessity to win such a case. The truck accident attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer have represented clients in all types of legal matters since 1949. Clients of our firm receive close attention from a team of attorneys with diverse legal backgrounds, and we believe this affords our team a unique perspective and skill-set for any case. Client recovery is always our first priority, so contact us today to schedule a free consultation. After we review the details of your situation, we will start investigating your case and let you know how our firm can help.