Truck Accidents – So Many things Can Go Wrong
There are many causes of truck accidents. Even though large trucks and drivers are governed by state and federal laws and regulations designed to make them safer, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes continues to increase. Our lawyers continue to handle cases in which either the driver, the company, or both simply choose to ignore these regulations and laws and endanger the motoring public. Tragically, many times these violations result in serious injury or death.
Violations which we frequently see causing or contributing to large truck accidents include:
1. Hours of Service. Driver fatigue often results in dangerous driving practices such as failure to keep in the proper lane and running off the road. The hours that a driver can drive in a certain time period is restricted by federal regulations. Drivers are required to keep a log of the hours driven to ensure compliance. In many cases we have discovered that the driver logs are falsified. Fatigue is such a major problem that the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board attributes it as playing a role in 20-40% of truck crashes.
2. Intoxicated Drivers. Drivers are prohibited from driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. We have been involved in many trucking cases where it was discovered the driver was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. In one case it was found that the driver had a combination of methamphetamine and cocaine in his blood at the time his driving behavior caused the death of our client. According to a study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), one out of every three truck drivers examined after they died in truck accidents had traces of recent drug or alcohol use in their system. he NTSB and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) investigated fatal-to-the-driver trucking accidents and performed comprehensive drug screening the bodies of the drivers. The study found that out of 168 cases, 67% percent of the drivers had detectable traces of one or more drugs, 33% had detectable blood concentrations of psychoactive drugs or alcohol, 13% had traces of cannabinoids or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), 13% had traces of ethanol or alcohol, 8% had traces of Cocaine, and 7% had traces of amphetamine or methamphetamine.
3. Substandard inspection. Drivers and carriers are required to conduct specific inspections of their trucks under the federal regulations. These inspections are designed to reveal unsafe conditions which may endanger the driver and the motoring public. In many cases we find that the drivers and carriers ignore these requirements and allow trucks to travel the highways in an unsafe condition. One survey conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that in one year over 2 million roadside inspections of trucks disclosed that 23.2% of the vehicles were found to have serious violations. Unsafe trucks are a leading cause of accidents on the highways.
When a truck accident occurs, the trucking companies generally have investigators on-call to respond to the scene. Their purpose is to do everything possible to limit the liability of the trucking company. Unfortunately, many times the police and highway patrol officers do not do a thorough job of investigating the accident and identifying witnesses. This is why it is crucial to hire an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
We have trained investigators and engineers ready to visit the scene of the accident, inspect the vehicles involved, locate witnesses, and gather information necessary to successfully seek a recovery. By retaining an experienced attorney immediately, victims and loved ones can ensure that their rights and interests are protected