In 2017 there were over 160,000 accidents involving large trucks and/or buses according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Of those incidents, 54% involved an injury of some kind.
Only 3% resulted in a fatality leaving the majority of individuals who experience an accident with a commercial vehicle, such as a UPS truck or a freight truck of some kind, left dealing with the repercussions of a personal injury.
While personal injuries resulting from a car-to-car collision can be pretty straightforward, being involved in an accident with a commercial truck posses unique complications that can make a personal injury case against a trucking company quite challenging, especially without the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Why accidents with commercial trucks are different
Unlike individuals, such as yourself, who own and operate their own, personal vehicle, commercial trucks are subject to a variety of state and federal regulations that set limits on everything from the total weight within the truck to how long a driver can be behind the wheel without rest.
As a result, there are more opportunities for a violation to occur that could lead to an accident. For example:
- Nationwide limits on the total weight a commercial truck can carry is 80,000 lbs. for interstate travel for larger trucks.
- Cargo must be properly loaded and secured using the correct tie-downs and other devices to ensure cargo won’t move or fall off the truck at highway speeds.
- Truck drivers must take a 30-minute break every eight hours of driving and they are required to stop driving after 14 hours on the road and take a 10-hour break. During those 14 hours on the road, a driver may only actively drive for 11 hours.
- A truck driver’s shift can either last for seven days at a maximum of 60 hours on duty or eight days at a maximum of 70 hours on duty. At least 34 hours must be taken off duty between shifts.
These are just a few examples of the intricate regulations that apply to truck drivers, and the most commonly violated ones when it comes to an accident. They are also just four out of 100’s of regulations that an attorney, well-versed in personal injury incidents involving a commercial truck will be able to cite in support of your case.
A complete list of regulations can be found here: https://www.dat.com/carriers/fleet-compliance/trucking-regulations.
It’s important to be aware of these regulations, because being able to prove a violation occurred at the time of an accident may increase the odds of a successful case against a commercial trucking company.
Another reason accidents with commercial vehicles are different is the settlement size. Unfortunately, because accidents between a car and a large truck can be more severe, settlements can be much larger than in a car-to-car accident in order to cover injuries and property damage. Because of this, trucking companies are usually staunch resisters to any claims being made by accident victims.
Lastly, figuring out who is actually responsible for compensating the injured party can be highly confusing. It’s not always as straightforward as the driver or the trucking company.
Anyone from the vehicle owner/lessor, to the company whose goods were in the truck, to the mechanic who fixed the truck, to the truck parts manufacturer could end up responsible for compensating the injured party dependent on what is determined to have caused the accident.
Common types of commercial trucking + car accidents
Many of the most common types of commercial trucking accidents are a result of a regulation violation that either puts the driver behind the wheel for too long or leads to freight falling off a truck. The top causes of accidents are:
- Impaired driving, typically a result of fatigue
- Reckless driving, such as speeding or a failure to yield
- Improperly loaded freight
- Lack of proper truck maintenance (also regulated)
In addition to the rules for time behind the wheel, Log Book Regulations, which often leads to accidents due to impaired driving, another regulation, not yet mentioned, is often found to be in violation at the time of an accident.
The Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Regulation sets out parameters which require drivers to have a higher level of knowledge, experience, skills, and physical abilities to assume the position of
A commercial driver’s license must be obtained in the driver’s home state. It’s often the case injuries when this regulation is violated that a driver doesn’t have their CDL or obtained it improperly. It’s another regulation your experienced lawyer will know to follow-up on when preparing your case.
What to do if you’re in a commercial truck accident
After an accident with a commercial truck, it’s important to get in touch with an attorney right away who can help you:
- Determine fault (driver of truck, trucking company,
manufacturerof part, you)
- Investigate for negligence
- Establish if any rules or regulations were broken
- Determine financial compensation
Don’t be put off filing a claim if it’s established the truck driver isn’t fully at fault for the accident. Unique to commercial trucking accidents, the state of Georgia allows you to file a comparative negligence claim, which can allow you to recover a portion of damages even if you’re partially to blame for the accident.
Why you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney
Navigating a personal injury claim when you’ve been in an accident with a commercial truck can be a totally different experience than filing a claim against a fellow driver.
Between the numerous federal and state regulations which govern commercial trucks and the potential for a sizable settlement, trucking companies will do their best to win any cases brought against them. injuries is why it’s best to hire a personal injury attorney who knows how to effectively build your case.
The lawyers at the Patterson Cozzo Law Firm will put their experience to work for you to achieve the best outcome possible. Taking the time to fully understand your case, the team at Patterson Cozzo will fight for your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation.