As with any other type of personal injury case, having an experienced attorney that works hard to protect your rights, minimize your hassles and is not afraid to go to trial when the insurance company refuses to settle for what your case is worth is extremely important when you are involved in an accident involving a semi-truck, 18-wheeler, big rig, or tractor-trailer. Semi-truck cases are different than run of the mill car wreck cases. The difference in size between a 4,000 pound car and an 80,000 pound tractor-trailer rig can result in disparate injuries between the driver of the car and the driver of the truck. In the last 10 years, 3 out of 4 people who died in these collisions were riding in the cars. In fact, in crashes involving a car and truck, the car occupants are 15 times more likely to be killed than truck occupants.
Additionally, semi truck and 18-wheeler accident cases present unique issues not associated with a typical car collision or motor vehicle accident. These differences include:
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations - federal regulations and safe operating requirements for commercial truck drivers, common carriers, vehicles, and truck equipment.
- Hazardous Materials Regulations - federal regulations and safe operating requirements for the safe and secure transportation of hazardous materials, proper packaging, employee training, hazard communication, and operational requirements for truck drivers and truck companies.
- Hours-of-service - federal regulations regarding truck driver alertness and fatigue-related accident.
- State and federal rules - Oregon truck safety regulations, truck licensing requirements, and truck insurance requirements.
- Corporate liability - negligent hiring, supervision, and truck maintenance claims against truck companies.
There are several agencies devoted entirely to regulating the trucking industry, both state and federal. One very important law regards log books. All truck drivers are required to maintain log books which record where they picked up their load, where they are heading, what roads they have traveled, and how many hours they have been driving. Regulations dictate how many hours may be driven in both a 24-hour period and a 7-day period.
Even after these regulations were put into place many wrecks occur due to driver fatigue, some driving 12, 14, 16, or even more hours without a rest. In the event of a wreck, log books may contain valuable information, which can help your attorney determine if the driver was within the regulations relating to the number of hours on the road. Additionally, this information may be able to help your attorney determine if the driver was speeding. Federal law indicates that log books can be destroyed after just six months. For this reason it is very important that you contact an attorney immediately if you have been injured in a wreck involving a semi-truck.
Unlike standard motor vehicles owners, semi-truck companies are required to be insured for at least $750,000.00, and some have several million dollars in excess of this minimum requirement. If you have been injured in a semi-truck wreck, there are many different types of recovery to which you are entitled. Keep in mind that the types of recovery vary depending on the facts of each case.
Occasionally, semi-truck insurance companies have been known to have their agents on the scene of an accident even before the police arrive. Be aware of this fact and be cautious about what you say to anyone unknown who may approach you at the scene of the accident or shortly thereafter, in the hospital or even at home after being discharged from the hospital. Do not agree to give a recorded statement to an insurance company without talking to an experienced attorney first.
The Large Truck Crash Causation Study, released as a Report to Congress, was mandated by the federal legislation that created the FMCSA — the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999. Researchers worked for 33 months examining a nationally-representative sample of large-truck fatal and injury crashes in 17 States. Each crash involved at least one large truck and resulted in at least one fatality or injury. The study’s general conclusions included the following:
- In all crashes, driver recognition and decision errors were the common type of driver mistakes noted by crash investigators or law enforcement officials.
- Driving too fast for conditions and fatigue were important factors cited for both drivers.
- Speeding was noted more often for truck drivers.
- Among truck drivers, prescription drug use was an “associated factor” in 28.7% of all crashes sampled and over-the-counter drugs were an associated factor in 19.4%.
- Car drivers were more frequently linked to both driving performance errors and non-performance problems (e.g., asleep, sick, incapacitated).
- Fatigue was noted twice as often for car drivers.
- Brake problems were a factor for almost 30% of trucks but only 5% of cars.
- Roadway problems were present in 16% of the two-vehicle crashes and adverse weather conditions were present in approximately 13%.
- Interruption in the traffic flow (previous crash, work zone, rush hour congestion, etc.) was a factor in almost 25% of the two-vehicle crashes.
If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident involving an 18-wheeler or semi-truck, contact The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C. to schedule a free consultation. I will work to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your injury or loss of a loved one as a result of a semi-truck accident.
Call 503-546-0461 or email Josh at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation regarding your case. I represent victims of truck crashes on a contingency fee basis and will work to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your injury or loss of a loved one as a result of a semi-truck accident.
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