Truck Accident Lawyers
Truck accidents are different. The typical truck accident involves potentially life or death injuries due to the imbalances between trucks and the cars they often damage. If you’ve been in a truck accident and have endurred serious injuries, you need to make sure you have the best possible truck accident lawyers in your corner to make sure your injuries don’t go uncompensated. Call the family of truck accident lawyers at Sawan & Sawan today for a free consultation.
PERSONAL INJURY PRACTICE AREAS
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Truck Accidents Statistics
Nearly 70% of all freight is carried by trucks. All drivers are in a more dangerous position while on the roadways due to this reality. Over the years, long haul trucks have significantly increased and have caused increasing crash rates and truck-related deaths. In fact between 2015-2017 there were 11,000 fatal truck crashes on U.S. roadways killing around 12,000 people. Most truck crashes occur during the week. The fewest occur on Sunday followed by Saturday. Most of the fatal crashes occur in rural areas on interstate highways and primary arterial roads and the vast majority of deaths involving large trucks crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. Passenger vehicles are especially vulnerable in crashes with large trucks simply because of their smaller size. Trucks can weigh 20-30 times as much as a passenger vehicle and can be taller with ground clearance. This results in “underride crashes”, where the car slides under the truck itself, often resulting in devastating injuries for the vehicle occupants. At least 39% of large truck occupants were not wearing their seatbelt. Fatal crashes usually do not occur by intersections. Crashes in work zones are rare. More than 21% of truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had at least one prior speeding conviction. Trucks cause catastrophic damages to life and property. The costs can be in the millions. The average cost of a fatal injury is about $3 million dollars. Traffic crashes are thought to cost about $871 billion dollars a year in the U.S.
The Causes of Truck Accidents
One of the most common causes of these crashes is loose or falling objects from the truck bed onto passenger vehicles. Second, stalled/disabled vehicles and nearby crash scenes. Many truck drivers had been involved in prior crashes at least once within the prior five years. Failure to yield the right of way is the most common conduct by truck drivers involved in these crashes. Followed by: careless driving, improper lane usage, failure to obey traffic signs and signals, following improperly, overcorrecting, stopping in the roadway, improper lane change, making an improper turn, speeding, and erratic or reckless vehicle operation. The financial cost of a fatal truck crash can be astronomical.
Proving Your Case
- The duty of reasonable care the truck driver or company owes you. This standard of care is generally uniform for all trucks driving on the roads in the U.S;
- That the driver failed to exercise this care and breached that duty. A classic example is an inattentive truck driver who fails to stop and rear ends your vehicle.
- That the driver’s failure to exercise this care was the direct and proximate cause of your injuries.
You must identify all potential defendants. The most obvious is the driver but you must also look at the relationships between entities. Independent contractors, employers, or other businesses are just a few possibilities. For example if an employment relationship can be established between a truck driver and either a trucking or shipping company, that company may be held liable for that truck driver’s negligence. To be successful, however, you must show that the company exercised some degree of control over the driver, and that the accident occurred while the driver was acting in the course and scope of that employment relationship. Coverage maybe more tenuous when the truck driver is an independent contractor of a larger company. If this occurs, you must look at the amount of supervising done by the company. The potential liability of trucking companies, employers, and contractors is a key factor in assessing recovery for you through insurance coverage, as all these entities will carry separate policies. One lesser potential target is the manufacturer or shipper of hazardous materials carried by the truck. If the truck driver is unaware of what he is hauling or it’s loaded incorrectly, then the company may be held liable. The manufacturer or shipper has a legal duty to inform the truck driver of the materials’ potential dangers.
Special Considerations in Truck Accident Cases
- Jackknifing: Due to their length, weight, and size, eighteen-wheelers are susceptible to jackknifing under certain conditions. These conditions usually occur when there is sudden braking or turning. The truck driver may provide a defense and not be negligent if the jackknifing was due to unforeseeable events such as slipperiness of the road, or an abrupt turn to avoid a motorist or stalled vehicle. Of course the duty of care requires the driver to always drive safely based on the weather.
- Truck Radius: Trucks often require the use of two lanes in making a right turn. Truck negligence can be established, when the truck turns from the inside lane or occupies two lanes.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA) was established in 2000. It falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and is codified at 49 U.S.C. 113. It governs commercial motor vehicles(CMVs) which include trucks.The goal of the administrative body is to prevent serious injuries and deaths related to CMVs.The rationale for this administrative body is to provide regulations for these vehicles to insure safe use of them while driving on the road.These trucks are much heavier, carry heavier loads, are less agile, and present more risk of injury than passenger vehicles.To accomplish its goals, the FMCSA drafts and enforces safety regulations, improves access to new technologies, disseminates safety information, and when necessary keeps high-risk trucks off the road.
CMVs include chartered buses, large delivery trucks, and 18-wheel semis. The drivers are required to carry a commercial driver’s license (CDL).This type of license is mandatory and is more difficult to obtain than a basic driver’s license. It is more restrictive. As an example, in most states, it generally lowers the OVI alcohol driving impairment to a breath test of .04%. In fact, any moving violations or OVI convictions may carry serious consequences for a CDL truck driver.
As previously mentioned, The FMCSA primary goals are to reduce accidents, injuries, and deaths involving trucks. This is accomplished by investigating these accidents, enforcing regulations, researching, and pursuing compliance audits for both drivers and trucking companies. The Compliance Safety Accountability program of the FMSCA allows compliance audits and has an enforcement system for keeping certain drivers and trucks off the roads. It pursues seven primary areas; driver fitness, compliance of hazardous materials, alcohol and drugs reviews, vehicle maintenance, service hours, accident indicators, and unsafe driving history. There is also an online complaint form that may be used by the public to complain about safety, service, discrimantion issues with a CMV.
Due to the Covid-19 continuing pandemic on July 13, 2020 the FMSCA extended the modified expanded emergency declaration No. 2020-002 under 49 CFR 390.25. This extension applies to all fifty states as well as the District of Columbia. This exemption is necessary to support direct emergency assistance to national supply chains. It does so by recognizing the existing national emergency conditions that require transportation of essential goods while providing continued relief from the FMCSA for truck drivers. It is limited but not exclusive to direct assistance in the transporting of livestock and feed; medical supplies and equipment related to tests, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants. This extension no longer applies to routine commercial deliveries. These truckers must comply with all regulations under 49 CFR 392 including but not limited to; compliance with all state speed limits, maintaining safe driving conditions, maintaining all sleep requirements; and reporting of all accidents within 24 hours. It is the watchdog of the industry!
Due to the complexity of the Federal Motor Carrier Administration, if you or a family member are ever in an accident with a CMV, consider discussing the situation with an experienced truck attorney as soon as practicable. As in all of these types of cases, time is of the essence.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Truck Accident?
After a truck accident, there’s going to be so much going on just focusing on recovering from the accident. On top of this, many victims of truck accidents struggle with the decision to hire a lawyer. We cannot overstate this enough. For a truck accident injury, you must speak with a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident. We can’t begin to go into the nuances involved in handling a truck accident claim. Without a thorough analysis of the facts of your case, scope of your injuries and research into the truck that hit you, your claim could be in serious jeopardy. Call now to speak with a member of our team.
How Much Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Charge?
For starters, we understand that when you’ve been injured in a truck accident, covering your medical bills and maintaining your financial well-being are paramount. For that reason, we never take a single dime of compensation unless we obtain you compensation. At that point, our firm operates entirely on a contingency fee basis which we discuss with each client. Everything is totally transparent from the start and all of our clients know exactly what, when and how we will be paid, if at all. That’s why our clients have given us consistently high reviews and we’ve been able to seek millions in compensation for those injured by trucks in Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and Florida.