Truck Accident Injuries
If you were involved in an accident involving a large commercial truck, you likely suffered serious or catastrophic injuries. Our experienced truck accident attorneys combine their experience litigating issues unique to the field of trucking with their ability to handle medically complex cases.
We are a law firm with a history of protecting our clients’ rights to compensation and getting results, whether they come from negotiations or trial. However, it is important to act quickly because the statute of limitations may place limits on how long you have to make a claim under the law. The following is an overview of why trucking accidents are different than passenger vehicle accidents, and what your options are if you suffered injuries or damages related to a trucking accident.
Truck Accident Cases Differ from Car Accident Cases
There are several reasons why a truck accident case is different from a passenger vehicle accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is a federal agency that established legal requirements for both truck drivers and trucking companies.
If either a truck driver or trucking company fails to follow these required regulations, they may face serious federal and state penalties. Additionally, if an accident occurs because of the failure of a truck driver or trucking company to follow these requirements, a victim may file a claim for the damage to their property and for their injuries. Some of the most common causes of accidents involving commercial trucks include the following:
- Truck driver fatigue
- Failure to follow traffic signs or laws
- Reckless or negligent behavior
- Improperly secured cargo
- Manufacturing defects of parts or components of the truck
- Failure to maintain the truck appropriately
- Unqualified or untrained truck drivers
- Truck driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol
The results of a trucking accident are often catastrophic injuries, permanent disabilities, and death. If you were involved in a trucking accident and suffered injuries, you should contact our experienced trucking accident attorneys to help ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Federal Hours of Service Regulations
The FMCSA established the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that specifically govern trucking safety issues. One of the most important sections of these regulations are the Hours of Service Regulations. Truck drivers are required to abide by hours of service laws. Federal law requires that truck drivers must take regular breaks and rest between shifts. Failure to do so could result in drivers being on the road while fatigued. Research has found that fatigued driving can be just as deadly as drunk driving. If you’ve been in a truck crash, the lawyers at The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm can develop an independent investigation of your truck accident and review the truck driver’s logs and shipping schedules to determine if important federal regulations were not followed.
Our law firm will do a complete and comprehensive investigation regarding your trucking accident case. If we determine that the truck driver failed to follow these federal guidelines there may be serious legal ramifications. Some of the hours of service regulations include the following:
- Truck drivers must rest and have a break from driving for a minimum of 34+ hours before starting to drive again for any length of time.
- After 10 hours of off-duty rest, a truck driver is only allowed to drive for a total of 11 consecutive hours and then must rest again.
- Truck drivers may only drive up to 60 hours within seven consecutive days or up to 70 hours within eight consecutive days.
In many cases, an accident involving a truck may be due to improper maintenance. A truck driver and trucking company have a responsibility under the law to ensure that every part and component of a truck is safe for the roadways. If a tire blows out, it can cause serious injuries or death to others on the highways. In many cases, truck drivers and trucking companies attempt to put used tires on their commercial trucks, or simply patch tires, which are against the maintenance regulations and standards required. If our investigation determines that the failure to maintain a truck properly caused your accident and injuries, we may be able to hold both the truck driver and trucking company liable.
Special Legal Requirements of Truck Drivers
The truck drivers are the most important component to ensure the prevention of trucking accidents. In order to ensure that the most qualified and trained people are driving trucks, the FMCSA has required that all truck drivers receive a commercial driver’s license, be at least 21 years of age, have a clean driving record, and obtain documentation of their physical health every two years. Truck drivers must sit for long periods of time, which the medical community now acknowledges can result in health risks. Therefore, a physical evaluation is required of all truck drivers every two years. Additionally, the FMCSA established even more stringent guidelines regarding alcohol and drugs for truck drivers. No truck driver may have a blood alcohol content above 0.02 or have the presence of any drugs or alcohol in their system for at a minimum of eight hours prior to their driving shift. Additionally, truck drivers are not allowed to have any alcohol with them in the truck, unless that is part of their cargo. If our investigation reveals that there were violations of the law by the truck driver, we may be able to hold the driver and the trucking company responsible.
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Overloaded and Overweight Trucks
One of the most common causes of a trucking accident relates to overloaded and overweight trucks. This is an entirely preventable scenario; however, many trucking companies attempt to gain more profit by overloading their trucks with additional cargo to attempt to make more money.
However, the U.S. Department of Transportation has established strict guidelines regarding the amount of weight a commercial truck may carry and how that cargo should be secured to minimize the risk of rollovers and catastrophic accidents. Commercial trucks are heavier and need longer to stop, travel down hills faster, and have a higher center of gravity — all of which can lead to serious accidents.
Additionally, when trucks attempt to brake and press too long and hard on their brakes, the brakes often fail. In other cases, tires simply burst due to the overloaded pressure placed upon them. If our investigation discovers that the truck involved in your accident was either overloaded or the cargo was secured improperly, we may be able to hold the trucking company, the loading company, and the truck driver responsible for your injuries.
Types of Injuries in Trucking Accidents
Trucking accidents typically cause catastrophic and serious damage to other vehicles and can cause severe injuries to other drivers and passengers. Because large commercial trucks weigh more than passenger vehicles, as well as oftentimes carry toxic cargo, injuries suffered can be devastating. Victims are left with traumatic brain injuries, whiplash, broken or fractured bones, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, concussions, burns, respiratory damage and wrongful death.
If you were involved in a trucking accident, you should seek medical attention immediately, and then contact an experienced trucking accident attorney. In many cases, trucking logs are destroyed quickly by truck drivers or trucking companies in order to prevent a victim from proving that there was a violation of federal or state law. Our experienced legal team can send out a letter requiring that the trucking company refrain from destroying or altering any evidence that would be necessary to build a strong personal injury case on your behalf.
Evidence and Your Trucking Accident Case
Unlike passenger vehicle accidents, there are several pieces of both physical and electronic evidence that may be available to prove liability and responsibility in a trucking accident case. This information must be obtained and preserved in its original condition. It is critical that you contact our experienced attorneys immediately following a trucking accident so that we can ensure that this evidence is collected and preserved appropriately to help you build a strong personal injury case.
Types of Evidence
The types of evidence available in a trucking accident may include the following:
- Most importantly, we need to obtain the “black box” of the truck, if possible. This electronic equipment contains crucial data regarding the speed of the truck, the braking history, the time the truck was operated on the roadways, GPS location, trucking company communications with the truck, daily inspection reports and more.
- Contact information of other drivers and witnesses
- Daily, monthly and yearly roadside inspection records as well as daily logs of the truck driver
- Maintenance records of the truck, including any diagnostic testing done
- Truck driver education, training, employment history, driving record and commercial driving license
- Any federal or state complaints against the truck driver or trucking company
It is critical that you contact our law firm immediately following an accident. Trucking companies could fail to preserve critical evidence. In order to obtain this evidence in its original state, and as quickly as possible, your lawyer should send a spoliation letter to all parties related to the trucking accident, including the truck driver, trucking company and any other possible liable party.
Failure to issue a spoliation letter may result in the trucking company destroying critical evidence that will help to build a strong personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. Once a spoliation letter is issued, the parties are not allowed under the law to destroy any evidence, even if they would legally have been allowed to do so prior to the letter. Any violation of a spoliation letter is taken seriously by the courts, and the companies may face strict and severe penalties. Contacting an experienced attorney immediately following a trucking accident will help ensure that important evidence related to your case is both preserved and maintained.
Determination of Liability
Your trucking accident is also different than a typical passenger accident because there are several parties that you may be able to hold responsible for your injuries and damages. Truck drivers are typically employees of a truck company, and therefore, if you were in a trucking accident that involved a commercial truck, you may have the legal right to hold the following persons or entities responsible:
- Truck driver (personally responsible for negligence)
- Truck manufacturer (if the accident was related to defective parts or components)
- Trucking company (regarding negligent hiring or negligent supervision of an employee)
- Truck maintenance company (if the accident was related to negligent maintenance of the truck)
- Truck loading company (if the cargo was overloaded or overweight, or negligently loaded into the truck)
- The leaseholder of the truck (this person or entity may be the owner of the truck)
Statute of Limitations in Louisiana
The State of Louisiana’s statute of limitations only allows one year from the date of the accident to file a claim for a personal injury in a trucking accident under Article 3492 of the Louisiana Civil Code. This is an incredibly short period of time and trucking accidents are typically legally complex and challenging to build. Along with obtaining all physical and electronic evidence, there is often the necessity of witness interviews and expert witness evaluation of the accident. Although you may have one year from the date of your trucking accident, you should never wait the entire year, and instead, contact one of our experienced trucking accident lawyers as soon as possible to immediately start working on your personal injury case.
Contact an Experienced Trucking Accident Lawyer
Trucking accidents oftentimes permanently affect a victim for life. If you were involved in an accident with a commercial truck, time is of the essence. Make sure to seek medical treatment immediately and contact The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation. Call us at 866-401-0301 or visit us online today if you need an experienced personal injury representation following a trucking accident.
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