If an 18-wheeler is involved in an accident, it can cause severe injuries and will likely destroy the vehicle it hits. If the truck driver is responsible for the accident, the insurance company may not pay you enough to cover your medical bills and lost wages.
If a truck driver has injured you, whether you are a motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian, you need legal guidance that you can count on. The truck accident attorneys at TK Injury Lawyers are here to offer you a helping hand.
Truck accidents are on the rise. In a recent year, 5,788 people died in large truck crashes. Fatality rates have increased by 47% in the past decade.
The sheer size of a commercial truck makes it vulnerable to accidents. According to the Texas Transportation Code § 621.207, commercial trucks are only allowed to be 14 feet tall, including their cargo load. Additionally, it is the truck driver’s responsibility to ensure that the vehicle will pass under structures in its path without hitting them if the driver is sitting above 13 feet 6 inches in the cab.
Despite this limitation, a tractor-trailer is still top-heavy, requiring truck drivers to navigate slowly when taking turns. With such a high center of gravity, tractor-trailers can easily roll over if the driver takes a curve or ramp too fast.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) allows fully loaded trucks to weigh a maximum of 80,000 pounds. Given this weight, maneuverability is a concern. Especially at highway speeds, it can be challenging for a truck driver to stop on a dime.
When an 18-wheeler is laden, which is loaded to its maximum weight limit, the truck is more at risk of crashing. A commercial truck is more likely to have the following types of accidents:
When a large truck enters a curve, centrifugal force may cause the vehicle to lean away from the direction of the curve. This is due to the truck’s high center of gravity and cargo that may be packed unevenly, causing the truck to become unstable.
Considering the weight of a laden tractor-trailer can be 80,000 pounds, commercial trucks have less control when moving downhill, making them susceptible to colliding with other cars. Unlike passenger cars, semi-trucks have a longer stopping distance. At normal highway speeds, a commercial truck may take 525 feet to come to a complete stop.
A large truck may jackknife when driving during less-than-ideal conditions. Jackknifing occurs when the truck’s cab and trailer fold in on themselves, causing the vehicle to form a “V” shape.
This often happens when the cab skids, but the trailer does not slow down, pushing the cab to one side. This is very dangerous for the truck driver since they sit in the cab.
Considering the rig is often fully loaded if a truck jackknifes, it can potentially kill the driver.
It is important for truck drivers to remain vigilant regarding vehicle maintenance and to check their tires regularly.
A tire blowout can cause the driver to lose control and collide with other vehicles. Tire blowouts will leave shredded tires on the road, causing a further hazard to other motorists long after the blowout occurs.
A T-bone accident is hazardous no matter what types of vehicles are involved, but it is especially dangerous when a large truck is involved. In a T-bone accident, a truck driver may fail to yield the right-of-way to another driver, resulting in the truck striking another vehicle’s side.
Truckers need to be cautious while driving. Even though drivers are on a tight schedule, blowing through a red light can have dire consequences.
A truck accident can leave you stunned. It is important to take action following a crash with an 18-wheeler.
The following steps should be taken:
Truck drivers must follow the rules established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These protocols are known as the hours of service (HOS) regulations.
HOS regulations are implemented to protect truck drivers against liability and keep other road users safe.
The HOS regulations limit how many hours a truck driver can drive. Commercial truck drivers must track their driving time and breaks in a logbook.
Property-carrying drivers can drive for 11 hours after being off-duty for 10 hours. On the other hand, passenger-carrying drivers are only permitted to drive for 10 hours after being off-duty for 8 hours.
Property-carrying drivers must adhere to a “14-hour rule”, in which drivers cannot drive past the 14th hour of being on duty. This is the following ten consecutive hours off-duty.
Passenger-carrying drivers have a “15-hour rule” and are not allowed to drive past the 15th hour of being on duty. This would be following eight consecutive hours off-duty.
Truck drivers must sleep during some portion of their “off-duty” time. Truck drivers have a mandatory rest time of two hours.
The sleeper berth requirement for property-carrying drivers is 7 consecutive hours, cumulating in 10 hours total. In contrast, passenger-carrying drivers must take at least 8 hours in the sleeper berth.
Drivers are permitted to extend their driving window by up to two hours in adverse weather conditions.
Drivers who operate their vehicle within a 150-mile radius may meet a short-haul exception. To meet this exception, truck drivers must report and return to their work location within 14 consecutive hours.
Most notably, drivers are restricted from driving more than 60 hours in 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in 8 consecutive days.
Even though drivers are held accountable by the FMCSA, truck drivers may exhibit negligent behavior when operating their vehicles, which may include:
Several parties may conduct separate investigations following a truck accident, including:
You should report any truck accident to law enforcement. A State or local patrol trooper will be called to the accident scene. After arriving, the trooper will assess the accident and determine if backup needs to be called to direct traffic.
After a thorough investigation and data collection, the police will prepare a crash report.
The crash report will detail:
The FMCSA is responsible for setting the standards for commercial drivers in the United States. The FMCSA develops testing for commercial motor vehicle drivers and also provides licensure.
The FMCSA may conduct an audit if a trucker has gotten into an accident that resulted in injuries or if the driver has other driving violations.
An FMCSA investigation will involve:
The NTSB is an independent federal agency that Congress oversees to investigate civil aviation accidents and other transportation events, including trucking accidents.
Once the decision to investigate has been made, an NTSB investigator will gather on-site data, analyze the facts, and provide a written report of safety recommendations following the accident.
A truck accident lawyer will conduct a separate investigation and gather the necessary information to determine the truck driver’s liability in your accident.
A truck accident can leave you with serious injuries and inhibit your ability to live your normal life. No matter your degree of fault, you need a truck accident lawyer who will represent your interests. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
Trent Kelly obtained his law degree from the University of Arkansas in 2007. He is licensed to practice law in Texas and regularly assists clients with their legal matters. Trent’s practice is primarily focused on personal injury matters – particularly those involving motor vehicles (such as cars, commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, and motorcycles) and wrongful death – but he also handles various business litigation matters as well. Click here to take a look at some complex cases Trent has resolved.
Years of experience: +15 years
Location: Austin, TX
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