Truck accidents differ from other types of accidents in several ways that often make them much more challenging than others. First, there are federal regulations that pertain to the commercial trucking industry that do not apply to other passenger cars. Preservation of evidence can be more difficult for a truck accident, and given the nature of an accident with a massive semi-truck, the injuries and damages are often substantial. Lastly, truck carriers often utilize a team of attorneys to fight accident victims’ claims, which can be intimidating for unrepresented accident victims.
Given these unique challenges, consult a lawyer of your own if you or your loved one has been hurt in a truck accident. For a free legal consult with a truck accident attorney in Cincinnati, call Levy Law Offices for a free consultation: 513-587-1323.
What regulations can trigger truck accident lawsuits?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – the government agency that regulates the trucking industry – provides various rules and guidelines that carriers and truck drivers must abide by. The rules pertain to many aspects of the industry, from truck driver training to inspection of a fleet. Adherence to federal regulations is critical to reduce crash risk. Violations are a breach of duty that can cause major safety hazards and lead to serious accidents.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) details hundreds of statutes that truck companies/drivers must know and abide by. Below are some of the most safety-critical — and most commonly violated — rules.
Hours of service
Recognizing the danger of allowing truckers to drive when they are exhausted and overworked, the FMCSA provides strict time limits on the number of consecutive hours truck drivers be can be on duty.
- They cannot drive more than 11 hours after 10 hours off-duty
- They have to take at least a 30-minute break after driving eight hours
- They cannot drive more than 60/70 hours in a seven/eight-day period.
Defective or worn tires and brakes, improperly secured loads, and overloaded cargo are common causes of trucking accidents. The FMCSA requires regular inspection of trucks to identify any disrepair. If there is an issue with an important feature on the truck, the carrier must take the vehicle out of service until a mechanic has repaired the issue.
Similarly, drivers must periodically inspect their loads. They have to check loads:
- Before each trip
- Within the first 50 miles of each trip, and
- Either after the “duty status” of the driver changes or at three hour intervals, whichever comes first
Cell phone use
The hazards of cell phone use while driving is well-documented. “Research commissioned by FMCSA shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) are six times greater for CMV drivers who engage in dialing a mobile phone while driving than for those who do not,” the FMCSA reports.
As such, truck drivers are subject to a strict ban on cell phone use. Drivers may not use a hand-held phone while driving, press more than a single button to dial a number, or even reach for a phone if they are “no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt.”
Who is liable for a truck accident?
The party that primarily caused or contributed to the accident will be responsible for paying for the damages. But if the accident was the truck driver’s fault, liability typically defaults to the employer. In the majority of instances, liability will fall upon either the truck company or the driver of the passenger car, but other parties can potentially be at-fault. Examples include:
- A manufacturer of a defective truck part, such as defective brakes or cargo securement straps
- A third-party company that improperly loaded the truck
- A government entity for defective roadways
What types of evidence do I need to win a truck accident case?
In order to win your claim and recover damages, you will need to be able to prove that the truck driver’s or company’s negligence is what caused your accident. Your attorney will need to send a letter of spoliation to the company as soon as possible to inform it that it needs to retain certain records as evidence. Some of the types of evidence that can help support your case include:
- The police report
- The truck driver’s log book
- Inspection and maintenance records
- The truck driver’s breath and blood/urine test results
- The truck’s black box
- The truck driver’s cell phone records
- Photos of the crash scene and vehicle damage
- Eyewitness reports
- Testimony from accident experts
Your attorney can investigate the accident, determine which types of evidence hold the most promise for proving your case, and then help you go about collecting all the necessary information.
What types of damages can I recover after a truck accident?
If you are successful in proving your case, you may be able to collect various damages related to your accident and injuries. You can recover damages for losses such as:
- Medical and rehabilitation bills
- Lost wages, lost capacity to work, loss of promotion
- Disability, disfigurement, scarring
- Emotional repercussions, e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder
- The effect of your injuries on your family, career, and overall sense of well-being
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
For help calculating the value of your claim, contact a truck accident attorney at Levy Law Offices in Cincinnati. We are passionate about helping truck accident victims and their families get the justice and compensation they deserve after a tragic accident.
In our years of serving injured Ohioans, our attorneys have developed various strategies and legal aptitudes regarding truck accidents. We are very familiar with federal regulations, and we know how to quickly secure vital evidence, negotiate with insurers, and fight carriers head-on in court, if need be. We also know how to comprehensively value your damages so that you receive the most money possible. Call 513-587-1323 to get started.