Every 15 minutes, a person is injured or killed in an accident involving a semi-truck or tractor trailer. The number of trucks traveling on the state’s highways increases every year, and truck accidents are rising as a result. The law firm of Penn Kestner & McEwen has represented many clients who have suffered serious and fatal injuries in truck and commercial vehicle accidents.
Penn Kestner & McEwen attorneys will review your case with all state and federal trucking regulations in mind. If you’ve suffered an injury in a trucking accident that occurred due to someone else’s negligence, we may be able to help you obtain compensation. Call (800) 732-3070 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Trucking accidents occur for a variety of reasons, but some of the most common truck accident causes include the following:
Truck Driver Fatigue
In order for truck drivers to remain alert and responsive on the road, they must take an appropriate number of breaks and get enough rest and sleep. These rest periods are mandatory under federal law. Unfortunately, drivers often break these rules to meet delivery deadlines. In fact, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board still blames driver fatigue as a probable factor in 30-40% of all truck crashes.
There are strict federal regulations in place regarding the number of hours a truck driver can stay behind the wheel. For example, drivers can only drive a maximum of 11 hours after being off-duty for 10 consecutive hours. They must also take a 30-minute break if they’ve driven for eight straight hours without at least a 30-minute interruption in drive time.
If a driver fails to comply with drive time regulations, and an investigation shows that fatigue contributed to an accident, that driver – as well as the trucking company that hired that driver – may face liability.
Truck drivers are often under extreme pressure to meet their schedule obligations and often resort to aggressive driving tactics such as making unsafe lane changes, failing to signal and ignoring blind spots, which create increased safety risks.
Speeding is probably the most common factor that contributes to trucking accidents. When truck drivers go too fast, they can’t react quickly enough when the road environment changes. They will, for instance, often slam into the back of a passenger car that had to stop suddenly. Or, they might have to swerve to avoid something on the highway, losing control in the process.
While the driver will typically be found responsible for speeding, the trucking company may be held liable as well if it can be proven that it imposed an unreasonable deadline.
Improper or Neglected Truck Maintenance
All vehicles require regular maintenance to function properly. Semi-trucks require more maintenance, simply because of the wear and tear they encounter on a daily basis. Maintaining a semi-truck is not only expensive, it’s time consuming. Because time and money are precious commodities in the trucking industry often maintenance practices are ignored putting others in danger.
Federal regulations require commercial trucks to be properly maintained. These machines experience a great deal of wear and tear because they’re used so often. But maintenance not only costs a great deal of money, it also takes a lot of time – both of which are precious commodities for trucking companies. They will often ignore maintenance as a result.
If you’ve suffered an injury in an accident caused by a brake failure, a tire blowout, or some other problem related to a lack of maintenance, you may be able to sue the company that owns the truck.
Truckers spend more time behind the wheel than virtually all other drivers on the road. Because commercial truck drivers are on the road so often, they often treat the cab of the truck as a home and are often splitting their attention between multiple activities. Such activities include eating, talking on a cell phone and texting. In one recent deadly accident, a trucker was watching pornography on a laptop computer at the time of the accident.
Drug and Alcohol Use
Drug use causes many trucking accidents perhaps even more than alcohol consumption. Truck drivers are not simply using marijuana and other drugs recreationally. They are taking prescription stimulants illegally, attempting to combat driver fatigue so they can spend more hours on the road and make more money. When a truck driver impaired by drugs or alcohol makes the decision to get behind the wheel of their semi tractor-trailer, any driver traveling near them is at risk for injury or death.
Nearly 30% of truck drivers answering a survey admitted they’ve used drugs at one time or another when operating a big rig in order to increase productivity. Nearly 20% percent reported “binge drinking.” For men, this is defined as having five or more drinks in a short period of time. For women, it’s four drinks.
Research indicates that nearly 30% of accidents involving commercial trucks can be directly blamed on a lack of proper training. The U.S. is facing an incredible shortage of truck drivers due to increased demand for goods. Older drivers are retiring, and there simply aren’t enough younger drivers to take their place.
In order to try and address this shortage, trucking companies will often rush to put people behind the wheel to get shipments delivered on time. This leads to reduced training, and drivers that are completely unprepared for the demands of the job. The results are often disastrous.
But just because a trucking company has deadlines to meet, that doesn’t excuse it from making sure all of its drivers are truly qualified to handle these huge machines. That company could be subjected to legal action if an untrained driver causes an accident.
Truck Accidents Caused By Passenger Vehicle Drivers
Of course, not every accident involving a commercial truck is the fault of the driver or trucking company. Drivers of passenger vehicles are often to blame. A motorist may, for instance, change lanes without warning, causing the trucker to try and swerve to avoid the car. The trucker can lose control, slamming into any nearby cars.
How would you go about obtaining compensation from that reckless driver? The best way would be to hire an attorney immediately so they can begin a thorough investigation. This will typically involve not only investigating the accident scene, but also getting footage from any surveillance cameras in the area that may show why the accident occurred. In addition, your attorney can interview witnesses, and take many other steps to determine exactly what happened.
Contact Penn Kestner & McEwen if You’ve Been Involved in a Truck Accident
If you’ve been involved in a serious accident with a semi-truck as the result of these or other reasons, it is important for you to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you recover compensation for your injuries and other damages. Contact McEwen & Kestner for a free case review by calling us at 800-732-3070.