The millions of truck drivers on the road today play a vital role in keeping our economy moving. Their essential transportation tasks carry an enormous responsibility for safety, but accidents involving commercial trucks occur all too often.
If you’re in an accident with a commercial truck, your lawyer can explain the negligent actions these drivers sometimes take. Your Miami truck accident lawyer will also investigate what led to your accident and how they can establish the truck driver’s liability to get you the compensation you deserve.
Statistics on Truck Accidents
Given the massive size and weight of trucks in comparison to other vehicles on the road, it is not surprising that accidents involving trucks often have devastating consequences. According to statistics, more than 5,000 truck accidents in a recent year involved fatalities, and more than 110,000 incidents resulted in serious injuries.
Their larger size and weight mean trucks have the potential to cause more serious accident than smaller vehicles. Big trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, while passenger vehicles tend to be far lighter. This means truck accidents can involve a higher risk of many types of injuries, including spinal cord injuries, amputations, brain injuries, broken bones, and internal damage.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Understanding the factors that commonly contribute to truck accidents is vital for the unfortunate victims of such tragedies and the prevention of these incidents in the future. With this knowledge, victims can seek rightful compensation for injuries they sustained.
One of the most common causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue. Fatigue can result from the rigorous schedules and high-pressure demands of the trucking industry, often leading to truck drivers getting insufficient rest.
Some truck drivers cannot sleep well or may push themselves to continue driving despite exceeding federal hours of service requirements.
Impact of Fatigue on Driving Skills
Fatigue has a significant impact on a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. Fatigued drivers may show some of the same symptoms as drunk drivers, such as drowsiness, slowed reaction times, impaired judgment, and decreased motor skills, which can all lead to accidents, as they prevent a driver from reacting effectively to sudden changes on the road.
Some fatigued drivers can even fall asleep behind the wheel, increasing the risk of a devastating accident.
Legal Guidelines on Rest Periods for Truck Drivers
To combat driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations specify mandatory rest periods and limit the number of hours a driver can be on the road per day and per week.
Drivers can, however, circumvent or ignore these rules, leading to them overworking and experiencing fatigue behind the wheel. Despite efforts to decrease fatigue, some drivers still become sleepy due to their long hours of service on the road.
In today’s highly connected world, distracted driving has become a significant cause of truck accidents. Truck drivers spend many hours on the road each day, meaning they may struggle to detach themselves completely from the many distractions that can interfere with their ability to focus on driving.
Different Forms of Distractions
Distracted driving is a pervasive and perilous issue on today’s roads. It encompasses a wide array of behaviors that divert a driver’s attention from the crucial task of safe driving. While texting and using a phone while driving are perhaps the most recognized distractions, there are numerous other types.
These include eating, drinking, adjusting navigation systems, and conversing with passengers. Even distractions such as dealing with personal stress or daydreaming can be hazardous.
Impact of Distractions on Driving Performance
Momentary distractions can have deadly consequences when operating large vehicles such as trucks. Truck drivers need more time and room to react to changes on the road, such as a vehicle suddenly pulling out in front of them or a traffic light changing.
Distractions behind the wheel can reduce the time a driver has to respond to those challenges, raising the risk of a devastating accident.
Drivers should recognize the dangers of distracted driving and prioritize focusing on the road, as even a momentary lapse in attention can result in a serious accident. Staying mindful of these distractions and making a conscious effort to minimize them can significantly enhance road safety for everyone.
When a Trucking Company Shares Liability
A truck driver’s negligent actions on the road often result in them bearing liability for an accident. The driver, however, is not the only one who must exercise caution to protect other drivers. The trucking company can also share liability, often due to its negligence in managing drivers or maintaining trucks.
The trucking company may share liability under several circumstances.
Dangerous Hiring Decisions
Hiring the right drivers ensures the roads remain as safe as possible. Some trucking companies, however, may employ drivers with poor driving records who can pose a danger to everyone around them.
While a single accident does not necessarily indicate poor driving habits, an extensive history of accidents may show that a truck driver cannot safely navigate the road.
Trucking companies should check employees’ driving records to assess their experience in operating big trucks as well as smaller passenger vehicles.
Lack of Vehicle Maintenance
Trucking companies must meet stringent vehicle maintenance requirements to prevent vehicle breakdowns that can increase the risk of accidents. Some trucking companies, however, may put off or ignore necessary vehicle maintenance or inspections.
A lawyer will examine maintenance records during their investigation to ensure a trucking company’s compliance with regulations. They may also investigate whether the truck driver reported problems with the vehicle but the company failed to carry out essential repairs. Some trucking companies will put off repairs until absolutely necessary to reduce costs.
Drivers must receive a certain level of training before getting a commercial driver’s license. This instruction, however, may prove inadequate when the driver is actually on the road.
They may need additional training, especially if they have to navigate in dangerous conditions. Trucking companies must ensure their drivers have the necessary training.
Pressuring Drivers to Ignore the Rules of the Road
Some trucking companies may actively pressure their drivers to ignore FMCSA regulations, including pushing them to spend more hours behind the wheel or speed up to reach their destinations faster. Drivers may face pressure to break the law to keep their jobs.
A trucking company should carefully monitor its drivers and vehicles, including adhering to FMCSA regulations, to reduce accident risk and keep everyone safe on the road. If a trucking company fails in that vital duty of care, you could potentially sue the company, increasing your chance of obtaining a higher settlement to cover your injuries and losses.
An attorney can investigate all key information relating to the accident, including sorting through the truck driver’s and trucking company’s records to determine who bears liability for the incident and whether you may have the right to pursue compensation from the company as well as the driver.
Legal Recourse in Truck Accidents
If an accident occurs, it is important to be aware of your legal rights and the process of seeking compensation for your losses. Understanding your rights and the steps in a truck accident lawsuit can be instrumental in helping you confidently navigate the complex post-accident legal landscape.
An Overview of Victims’ Legal Rights in Truck Accidents
If you are the victim of a truck accident, it is important to understand you have a right to compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial damages you’ve suffered. This compensation can cover medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other accident-related expenses.
A skilled truck accident attorney can help ensure the protection of your rights and guide you through the process of filing a claim, including identifying the party that likely caused the accident, investigating any contributing factors that may make the trucking company liable for some or all of your losses, and assessing all the damage you sustained so you can include it in a comprehensive claim.
How to Gather Evidence in a Truck Accident Case
Building a truck accident case often involves gathering comprehensive evidence to support your claim. This may include police reports, medical records, eyewitness accounts, and photographs of the accident scene.
Your lawyer may call upon experts to provide testimony regarding the truck’s mechanical condition and the driver’s actions or to assess the future impact of your injuries. As a lawyer can often easily access key information, you should hire one as soon as possible after your accident.
The Process of Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Filing a truck accident lawsuit generally begins with hiring competent personal injury lawyer. Your attorney will review the accident details, gather evidence, identify potential defendants, and file a complaint on your behalf.
Both parties will then engage in a discovery process, sharing evidence and information relating to the case. The case may proceed to trial if the parties cannot reach a settlement during this phase.
Understanding these legal processes can be daunting, especially while dealing with the fallout of an accident. An experienced truck accident attorney can alleviate your burden and ensure they acknowledge and protect your rights.
Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer
Regardless of whether your truck accident occurred due to negligence on the part of the truck driver or trucking company, you need an experienced truck accident lawyer to navigate your claim and recover the compensation you deserve.
Contact a skilled Miami personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your rights.