What to Do When a Truck Driver’s Negligence Causes a Catastrophic Accident
Crashes involving large trucks are some of the most devastating accidents on the road. Many times these types of collisions leave one or more people seriously injured or dead. Unfortunately, some of these accidents are caused by the truck operator’s negligence or failure to drive in a safe manner.
At Bishop & Hayes P.C., we represent individuals who have been injured or killed in truck and auto accidents throughout Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Our focus is on getting truck and auto accident victims the largest settlement or verdict possible based on their losses. If you have been involved in a truck accident, contact our office at (417) 862-5544 to book a free consultation.
What Are Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Many truck accidents are preventable, caused by driver negligence. If you are involved in an accident that was caused by another person’s wrongdoing, you might be entitled to compensation from a liable party.
Common truck operator errors that cause accidents:
- Driver fatigue
- Operator inattention
- Driving while impaired
- Blind spots
- Brake and other equipment malfunctions
It is important to discuss your legal options with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident, as you only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit based on personal injury or wrongful death.
State and federal regulations limit the hours of service that a property-carrying driver can operate their vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) within the Department of Transportation governs commercial drivers, including their licensing and operating requirements. It was established to help prevent commercial vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.
According to the FMCSA, truck drivers must follow these hours-of-service regulations:
- A maximum 11-hour driving limit after 10 consecutive hours off duty;
- A 14-hour limit after coming on duty from 10 consecutive hours off duty;
- A 30-minute driving break after having driven for 8 cumulative hours; and
- A 60/70 hour limit on duty in 7/8 consecutive days;
These regulations are designed to help prevent driver fatigue. Truck operators are under increasing pressure to meet short deadlines. When an employer requires an operator to drive beyond the hours-of-service limitations set by federal law, they can be held liable for any resulting injuries or death.
With the introduction of cell phones and other mobile devices, accidents related to driver inattention or distracted driving have increased significantly. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), large trucks accounted for 10% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes. When a truck driver is distracted by a device, the chances of them causing an accident increases significantly.
In addition to cell phones, truck drivers can be distracted by a GPS device or other instrument, eating or drinking while driving, or even the radio. Given the size and weight of their vehicles, truck drivers must be on a heightened alert and remain focused on the road.
Driving While Impaired
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol costs countless lives each year. It is not only illegal drugs that can impair a person’s driving abilities but also prescription or over-the-counter drugs that cause drowsiness and other severe symptoms.
Data by the FMCSA indicates that in 2019 of the 4,949 large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes, 6% tested positive for at least one drug. Even then, a large percentage (59%) were not tested, so the actual number of impaired drivers may be much higher.
For nearly all large commercial vehicles, including semi-trucks, tractor trailers, and 18-wheelers, there are huge blind spots on all 4 sides. Referred to as “no-zones,” these areas are places where a vehicle is no longer visible to the truck driver.
Vehicles that enter these large blind spots are at a greater risk of being involved in a collision. It is essential for all motorists to keep a safe distance and for truck drivers to be aware of the potential for cars to enter their no-zones. Truck drivers should consistently check their mirrors for other vehicles and take extra caution when changing lanes, braking, or turning.
Speeding is one of the leading causes of truck accidents throughout the country. Large trucks take longer to stop, driving too fast for road conditions can have deadly consequences. It is imperative that truck operators maintain a safe speed at all times.
Unlike many passenger vehicle operators, truck drivers are required to drive in adverse weather conditions in order to transport their cargo timely. Truck drivers must do their due diligence to drive at a speed safe for the current weather conditions.
Equipment Malfunctions and Improperly Loaded Cargo
Trucks and other commercial vehicles require longer stopping times and distances. Heavy loads or slick road conditions can increase the already longer stopping distances required by large trucks. If a truck’s brakes are not in working order, it could lead to serious injury or death.
Trucking companies are required to perform routine maintenance on their vehicles. A failure to prevent equipment malfunctions may result in liability.
Truck operators must also ensure that the cargo is properly loaded and secured to prevent shifting. Improperly loaded cargo could cause a truck to jack-knife or roll over. The FMCSA estimates that rollovers were the first harmful event in at least 4% of all fatal crashes involving large trucks.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Truck Accident
If you are injured in a trucking accident, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances of the case, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
At Bishop & Hayes, we solely focus on auto injury law. We have recovered millions on behalf of our clients and will work hard to get you the financial security you need after an accident. Contact our office at (417) 862-5544 to discuss your case with a partner with the firm. All consultations are free and without obligation to retain our services.