Automotive Product Liability Series- Part III: Trucking Accidents
It is a tragic fact, but each year over 4,000 people die and over 100,000 people are seriously injured in crashes involving large trucks and commercial carriers. 18 wheel trucks and their cargo often exceed 40 tons. They maneuver differently than normal vehicles. They stop differently than normal vehicles. They are operated differently than normal vehicles. These facts make them far deadlier than normal vehicles. As a result of their increased danger on the roadways, stringent laws have been created by specific agencies governing this industry such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These laws apply to a host of people and business entities including the driver of the rig, the employer of the driver, the owner or lessee of the rig, and/or the shipper/loader of the cargo.
Some of the specific rules and regulations applicable specifically to truck operators/owners are:
1) The duty to inspect any commercial truck and trailer involved in an accident and create a report before the vehicle leaves the accident scene.
2) Federal “Hours of Service Rules” for truck operators require that they get a minimum amount of sleep between shifts and that driving shifts only last a specific period of time before an “inactive rest” period begin.
3) Mandatory drug testing of operators
Trucking accidents happen for many reasons including operator error, faulty or ill-maintained equipment or failure to provide routine maintenance. The vast majority of catastrophic trucking accidents result from companies and their drivers trying to deliver too many goods too quickly, causing them to have an unsafe operation. In an effort to deliver goods and move onto the next lucrative shipment or delivery, drivers disregard crucial “hours of service” rules and don’t get sufficient sleep to stay attentive. Routine maintenance takes these enormous vehicles out of service where they do not make any money for their owners. Inspections and repairs are costly and take away from the bottom line. Unfortunately, the result is that along every major distribution corridor in America there are overtired drivers operating dangerous 18 wheel vehicles desperately in need of repairs and maintenance.
If you or a loved one are involved in an accident with a large commercial vehicle which results in severe injury or even death, please call our team at Ashcraft & Gerel, LLP. Our experienced group of trucking litigation lawyers concentrate on gathering all of the crucial evidence necessary to hold the responsible parties accountable. We understand that trucking accidents are not like a routine car accident and cannot be treated as such. For a free and confidential consultation with an attorney, you can either call us at 800-829-7037 or fill out an online form.